Out of everything I’ve got on my camera’s bucket list, the night sky is what’s always intimidated me the most. I look at so many amazing photos of the Milky Way, or of billions of stars with absolutely no light pollution at all, and I find myself saying it’d be impossible for me to take something like that. If you’ve ever considered trying to get into night photography, you know how overwhelming it can feel at first. Mark Gee will be the first person out of any to tell you that going into it will require some serious patience. But like anything, if you put in the right amount of effort with the right amount of heart, that patience will ultimately pay off. To help out on getting started with astrophotography, Mark Gee wrote a tutorial that goes over almost everything we need to know.
With five years worth of experience already, Mark Gee emphasizes from the beginning how stressful shooting in the night can get. He tells us from the start about how it’s taken him years to perfect a certain photo he wanted, and warns us from the beginning that if we’re going to represent the night sky in our photos as beautifully as they appear in real life, we’re going to be putting in our share of the effort.
What’s great about the time we live in today, as he also points out, is that with digital photography, almost anyone can take pictures like this now. We don’t have to worry about buying film to cover our trial and errors, and the stress of paying for those mistakes is something we don’t have to worry about anymore. What Mark does emphasize over, however, is how important our location is to the outcome of the picture, To give us a demonstration, he includes a video showing the effects of city lights on the photography itself:
Moving more into the tutorial, we’re introduced to the different types of astrophotography there are: deep space, solar system, wide field, and time-lapse. Mark then gives us guidelines over how to plan everything out, the equipment we’ll need, how to shoot in low light, the composition of our pictures, what settings we should have the camera at, and how to approach the post-processing at the end of all of it. The things I just listed aren’t even a summary of everything he goes into; if you’ve been looking for a detailed, easy-to-read introduction to shooting pictures like this, then I think this is one of the best guides you’ll ever come across.
Mark Gee has been working with astrophotography for about five years now; he’s won multiple awards and he’s even worked on a few Oscar-winning films. While there are many ways we can approach photographing the nighttime sky, these are Mark’s ways. Check them out and maybe you’ll find them the most suitable, as well. As for me, I’m getting my 5D Mark II ready for the next cloudless night that comes across my way.