Landscape Photography, Tutorials

Astrophotography For Beginners | How to Photograph The Night Sky

Astrophotography Guide How To Photograph Stars For Beginners

Astrophotography For Beginners 

How to Photograph The Night Sky

The Equipment

Camera – I use a DSLR but any camera with manual settings should work.

Lens – A wide-angle lens with a large aperture. The wide-angle helps you to avoid star-trails the large aperture lets more light reach the sensor

Tripod – You need something that’s strong enough to hold the weight of your camera and that won’t wobble in the wind. Stability is key.

Trigger Release – You want to avoid any camera shake. using a remote trigger release allows you to release the shutter without touching your camera. Locking the mirror up also helps reduce camera shake – look in the camera menu to lock the mirror.

Torch – Obvious reasons, it helps you see in the dark.

Spare Batteries – The cold will eat your battery life so you will probably need to take 1 or 2 spares. Keep them warm in your pocket for best performance.

Do You Want To Avoid Star Trails?

If so keep reading, if not skip to the next section.

*I should note that I’m not book-read or claiming to know the science behind this. I just know I don’t like star trails and this is how I avoid them…*

The Earth’s rotation is what causes the star trails – Your camera shutter needs to be open for an extended period of time to get enough light to reach the sensor. The sensor picks up the movement of the stars during that time.

How do I know how long I can leave the shutter open for?


The 600 Rule

There is some simple maths you can do to work out what the maximum time you can leave the shutter open for. All you need to do is ” 600 divided by your true focal length” 

To get the “true focal length”  you need to multiply the focal length by the camera sensors crop factor


You have a 12mm lens on a full-frame camera. 600/12 = 50. That gives you a 50-second shutter speed.

You have a 12mm lens on a crop sensor (x1.6) camera. 600/(12×1.6) = 31-second shutter speed

You’ll quickly realise that wide-angle lenses give you the most time. The way I look at it is that longer focal lengths just magnify the problem and give you less time.

What Settings Should I Use?

There are 3 ways to control the image:

  1. ISO – You want to keep this as low as possible, as this increases so does noise in the image, so keep it as low as possible.
  2. Aperture – Wide apertures allow more light in, your limited to what lens your using I usually keep this at F2.8
  3. Shutter speed. As long as you have a steady base and you stick to the maximum shutter speed without downgrading image quality, unless the camera moves. Leaving it open too long will cause star trails.


There is a LOT of trial and error, don’t be discouraged by this. I’ve had lots of nights where I get no decent photos but I usually learn something – Usually what not to do. But that’s what makes it fun. You can get creative and do some light painting or shoot some star trails just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean you won’t either. Have some fun with it, there’s no right or wrong way.

Share Your Photos – #AdamKappa

If I helped you in any way I’d love to see what you get. Use the #AdamKappa and tag me in your photos. I’m on Instagram – AdamKappa . Twitter – Adamkappa and Facebook – Adam Kappa Photography

About Adam Kappa

Adam Kapustynskyj is a landscape photographer based in Ulverston near the English Lake District. He specialises in Landscape photography

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