The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Camera Club reaches for the moon and stars

By Rex Dolby

"Full Moon", photo by Rex Dolby. (Photo submitted.)


Moon and/or Stars will be the competition theme for the Wassenberg Camera Club’s next meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, at the Wassenberg Art Center.

Making the right camera settings and avoiding camera shake and lights are the keys to good astro photography. Here are some suggestions that may aid in achieving the winning shot. First,  lock your camera on the tripod and make your settings before taking it outside.  It is a lot easier to see what you are doing and make adjustments.  Take a flashlight along with your equipment so you can make any corrections in settings after your first exposure.

Find a location where lights are not shining on the camera.  This is a tough order in town, so you may need to select a spot on a back road. Exercise care in where and how you park. To avoid camera shake, make sure all tripod locks are snug, if you have image stabilization, turn it on, and use a cable release, or set your timer on a 3-5 second delay.

If your lens is large enough to nearly or completely fill the frame with the moon, meter what it shows.

Smaller images will average the dark sky and light moon causing the moon to be over exposed and show no detail.  In this case, start with an ISO of 100 to reduce digital noise, an aperture of f 11 for sharpness, and a shutter speed of 1/125-1/250.  Make your exposure and then adjust the settings for the next shot.  Add interest in the sky areas with tree branches, building shapes, fir trees, and so on to make the composition more interesting.

Stars will call for an initial setting of an ISO of 800, a short zoom lens at f 5.6, and a shutter speed of 8 seconds.  If the exposure looks gray, shorten the shutter speed.  If it appears dark, increase the ISO setting. Shutter speeds longer than 8 seconds will show the tracks of the stars rather than pin points of light. Aiming the camera at the North Star with a long exposure will produce an image with 1 pin point of light with arcs of varying lengths around it.

The next full moon is June 4.  If you go out just after sunset, there is enough light to illuminate buildings, fields, or bodies of water, yet it is dark enough for the rising moon to show up well. Why not go for it?

The Wassenberg Art Center is located at 643 South Washington Street in Van Wert, Ohio. General office hours during exhibits are: Tuesday–Sunday, 1–5 p.m. Admission to Wassenberg Art Center exhibits is always free. Contact us at 419.238.6837 or email: info@wassenbergartcenter.org, or visit our website at wassenbergartcenter.org.

POSTED: 05/30/12 at 1:09 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News