Astrophotography Series Announcement

A six-part tutorial series

By K David in Articles and Tips on Feb 22, 2015
Astrophotography Series Announcement

Astrophotography is one of the newest trends among photographers. Gone are the days of cold cameras, liquid nitrogen hypersensitization, and specialty high-reciprocity films. High-quality digital cameras with good high-ISO performance combined with fast, high-quality optics from makers like Pentax, Samyang, and Tamron are taking astrophotography out of the enclaves of astronomers and putting it in the hands of hobbyists, too. This six-part series will, over the next year, look at various elements of astrophotography.

Over the course of the coming weeks, you will be able to find the articles on our homepage at:

Series Objective

Whether your goal is to take highly detailed photos of the galaxy with a telephoto lens or to create well composed star trail landscapes, this series aims to help you achieve your goal. This series is designed to provide something of value to any astrophotographer regardless of experience. In fact, many of the subjects we'll discuss in this series can help you in you have a high-end DSLR, entry-level bridge camera, or even an old film body. This article will provide tools, tips, and tricks that can apply to any photographic medium.

For beginners, this series will help you find and use the tools needed to start astrophotography. For intermediates, this series will provide some in-depth equipment resources. For advanced astrophotographers, this series will provide some resources you may not have know of and will provide details on how to make and use a high-accuracy barn door tracker. This series is intended to be a photographic journey that you, the readers, can partake in with me, the author.

Series Outline and Article List

Article 1: Planning the Shoot, will look at online resources that will help you plan your shoot. At the end of this article, you will be able to plan out your astrophotography adventures months or longer in advance, plan vacation time around astrophotography events, and use online resources to determine where and when to be at a site with a shot already composed in your mind.

Article 2: Equipment Selection, will look at how to select equipment. We'll look at Pentax DSLRs, lenses, astrotracking systems, and various models of barn door trackers for those of you who want to build your own tracking system.

Article 3: Barn Door Tracker Types, will focus exclusively on barn door trackers. At least six types exist, three of which present photographers with great accuracy. We will focus on the most accurate types and provide you the tools needed to ascertain how accurate each type will be over time with the type of lens you want to use. This article will include parts lists and the mathematical calculations required to allow you to design your own tracker and scale it up or down for your needs.

Article 4: Final Barn Door Tracker, will look at the high-precision tracker I will make this year. This article will also include a parts list. This article will also look at lessons learned from the construction project and ways your barn door tracker could be improved.

Article 5: Working in Post, will look at some ways to make your astrophotography images stand out. The article will look at editing RAW and JPEG files, using in-camera compositing modes in Pentax's flagship bodies, how to extract the best results from non-flagship Pentax bodies, and image compositing to create a specific image that couldn't be captured directly due to technological limitations.

Article 6: Tips for Astrophotography, will provide tips and tricks that will help improve your images. These will be lessons learned over the course of the year that will help improve future astrophotography endeavors.

Invitation for Participation

I invite you to participate and join in this series' evolution. Leave a comment below and let me know what else you would like to see in this series. If you know of resources I miss during the series, please share those, too. This series will be our series and we should all grow as photographers for it.

For my part, I will make this series as much about photography as gear. To support that, the articles will contain downloadable resources that I've developed, how-to videos for some tasks, and everything that will accompany these articles will be free for Pentax Forums users and the wider photography community to access.

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