Astrophotography – My creative attempt with a star filter

Today, I’ve been working hard on the ezine. I recorded and edited next months video on Understanding Filters. I was talking about star filters (one of Cokins special effects filters) and it got me thinking. What if I shot the stars, the real ones in the sky, with a star filter? I wonder how interesting that would look.

But there was a problem. With most astrophotography you need a telescope and a mount for the camera. This is not only to get closer to the stars, so to speak, but so that the camera and the telescope moves with the earth. This is so you get no star trails. Star trails are nice, but I didn’t want a whole sky of streaky lines.

What was I going to do?

I decided a few test shots first. I tried 3200 ISO. Nope, didn’t like it. It enhanced the light pollution from nearby streets and the city. So that was no good. I tried 1600 ISO and that seemed to work well. It gave me a dark sky without too much sensitivity to light pollution. But what about those star trails?

What was I going to do about those? After some contemplation I decided to go against what everyone tells you to do. Most people will tell you to have the camera on a really, really long shutter. That’s fine if you have a mount on a telescope tracking and moving with the Earth as she rotates through space. But even a 20 second exposure will show your stars to be tiny smudges, yes, only 20 seconds. The Earth does move at a thousand kilometers through space every second, so it’s not surprising that the pin points of light would smudge.

I decided to go for a 10-15 second exposure of Orion, at 1600 ISO and at Auto White Balance. I was pretty happy with the result. And, I used that beautiful star filter. I don’t like the cloud at the bottom right, it really bugs me, but I love the rest of the shot.

We’re due for more rain for about a week. As soon as I get another clear night, I’ll shoot it again. This time with the same settings, filter and no cloud.

What do you think?




Here is a closer look at Orion:


Just what is in this constellation?


About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (10)

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  1. Paulette says:

    Amy, the photos are wonderful.

  2. Julie says:

    I like the star filter over the stars, it’s a good effect, thank you for posting your article. I enjoy reading your blog very much.

  3. Robert Bask says:

    What type of filter is this?

  4. Penni says:

    This is a cool effect!

  5. Betty Anders says:

    I wish my photos were as pretty as that, I can never get stars sharp. WHat’s the secret?

  6. Sonny says:

    Wow! What can I say about your photography Amy? Basically Magnificent

  7. Cathy says:

    Love the effect!

  8. Simu says:

    Can you do the same thing in photo editing?

    • There are loads of fantastic functions you can do, it depends on what editing program you have. Personally I love using Lightroom 4. I love the gentle and subtle changes it makes, it’s very responsive, much more so that 3.6.

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