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Astrophotography

Space Photographs

Many people think that only those who can afford professional photography equipment can capture stunning images of the night sky, but in fact it is possible for many amateur photographers to capture the heavens in all their glory. While it was once necessary to travel into the remote wilderness trailing an array of expensive cameras, filters and tripods, these days special filters and new technology makes it possible to capture vivid images of the night sky in less than optimal conditions.

There are many techniques photographers use to capture those images, and the learning curve for astrophotography can be quite steep for those new to the field. Photographing the heavens presents many challenges not encountered in other photographic endeavors, and it can take some time, patience and creativity to overcome those unique challenges.

In order to overcome the challenges associated with astrophotography it is important to understand just what those challenges are. Photographing celestial objects is quite different from photographing landscapes, people and other subjects. Some of the most significant obstacles faced by newcomers to astrophotography include:

Astrophotography in the Digital Age

Many amateur and professional astronomers have abandoned old fashioned film cameras in favor of new digital technology, and digital cameras can produce some excellent photos of the heavens. One advantage of digital astrophotography is that the CCDs in digital cameras are generally quite sensitive, and of course there is no expensive film to buy. On the downside, digital cameras have a much reduced field of view, and photographers will need to compensate for this reduction.

In order to overcome the challenges of low light conditions in astrophotography, digital photographers rely on a number of techniques and pieces of equipment. Some of the modifications photographers can make to their digital cameras include:

In addition to the camera specific features, there are a number of software manipulations that can make photographs of the heavens more attractive as useful. The images captured by digital cameras can be adjusted to increase contrast and brighten color, and a number of special effects can be used as well. Filters can make a big difference in the finished product, allowing users to filter out any thermal noise or light pollution that may be present.

There is no doubt that photographing the heavens presents more of a challenge than taking a snapshot of a nearby hillside. Even so, modern technology has helped both amateur and professional photographers to capture their favorite images of the night sky. Astrophotography can be a fun and rewarding hobby for any stargazer, and digital technology has made it easier than ever to get started.

Author: Commissioned,  Originally published: 2008-03-18
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