I have just had a quick visit to Glen Innes, New South Wales this week and decided to do a bit of Astrophotography while down there with their beautiful clear night skies and cold crisp nights ( -6C temp ).
A great place to do this type of photography is at Stonehenge just about 8km south of Glen Innes along the New England Highway. At this location light pollution is not a real issue because of its altitude. Stonehenge is about 3,500 feet (1,067 m) above sea level and exists mainly as a flat plateau strewn with granite boulders. The area is a recreation reserve however it does contains sacred sites and remains of great significance to the Ngarabal people.
If you have never tried to photograph stars or the Milky Way it is relatively easy and great fun.
All you will need is warm clothing plus:
A digital camera, wide angle lens with a wide aperture, f 1.8, 2, 2.8, 3.5.
The wider the aperture the better to collect the light.
A sturdy tripod.
A torch so you can set up and adjust your camera ready to take the shots.
A suitable location, away from city or street lights, which may cause some areas of the photo to receive too much exposure and burn out all detail.
Camera setting are approx.
Shutter speed 10 seconds (approx). If the speed is too long you will get star trails (Movement)
Aperture f 2 approx it will depend on the type of lens and the ISO you are using.
ISO. 2000 or faster (The faster the speed the more noise in the image)
You will need to use the camera focus set at infinity. The easiest way to do this is to set the camera up in daylight. Focus on a distant subject use a piece of masking tape or something like it on the lens barrel and mark on the tape when the subject is in focus at the maximum distance which lines up with ∞ ( infinity). This can be used at night when your auto focus does not work.
One little trick I use to lighten the foreground is to use a torch. Don’t point at the foreground subject because you will get uneven lighting, I bounce the light off my white shirt and that creates bounce light which will lighten the rocks because you are using a fast ISO and at that ISO speed you do not need much light to record in the image.
That’s basically all you need.
Set up your photo and take one, check the image in the back of the camera, if it is to dark increase the ISO. If it is to light reduce the ISO.
Good luck and have fun trying to get that great image.