10 Steps to Shoot the Stars: Your Guide to Astrophotography - Scott Kranz

  by MeFOTO Blog

1. Know your camera. First things first, familiarize yourself with your camera and its settings. Is your camera sufficiently powerful to shoot at night? Does it have the basic functionality needed for a good night shot? Check to make sure you can manually adjust focus, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO (each addressed below). And a wide-angle lens is always helpful to capture the vast night sky.

2. Grab a bombproof tripod. The right camera, without more, isn’t enough. You need stability in the form of a solid tripod. Why? Because a single exposure can be upwards to 30 seconds in length, and perfect stillness is required. Have a tripod that is plenty sturdy, given the weight of your camera and any external forces (such as the wind). I currently use a MeFOTO Globetrotter Carbon Fiber tripod .

3. Find your spot. To photograph the stars, you’ll need to get away from most artificial light pollution (from cities and large towns). Head into the wilderness where the stars shine brighter. If you already plan on hiking, backpacking, or camping in a remote area, you should be set, assuming clear skies are in the forecast.

The heart of the North Cascades in Washington State is far from most artificial light pollution present. Settings: 25 secs, f/2.8, ISO 2500. Shot with MeFOTO Globetrotter.

The heart of the North Cascades in Washington State is far from most artificial light pollution present. Settings: 25 secs, f/2.8, ISO 2500. Shot with MeFOTO Globetrotter.

4. Focus on the stars. Once you find your spot with camera and tripod in hand, you need to turn to the camera itself. To vividly capture tacksharp stars, you will first need to set your camera lens to manual focus (as opposed to autofocus). Then, manually focus “on infinity.” Often lenses have an infinity marking (the symbol ∞) to dial to.

5. Nail your shutter speed. To capture starlight in a photograph, your shutter speed will need to be significantly longer than daytime shots 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or even 30 seconds in length. As a rule of thumb, if there is little or no moonlight or light pollution, start with a 20, 25, or 30 second exposure. One warning, though: depending on your lens focal length, too long of an exposure may produce star “trails.” The more you zoom in the greater star movement your camera will capture. Try a wider focal length (16mm to 24mm) to keep the stars tack sharp, even with a 30 second exposure.

If there’s plenty of light pollution on the horizon, try a quicker shutter speed, such as 10 or 15 seconds. Settings: 15.0 sec, f/2.8, ISO 4000. Shot with MeFOTO Globetrotter.

If there’s plenty of light pollution on the horizon, try a quicker shutter speed, such as 10 or 15 seconds. Settings: 15.0 sec, f/2.8, ISO 4000. Shot with MeFOTO Globetrotter.

6. Find the right aperture. Your camera’s aperture (the “Fnumber”) concerns the size of the shutter’s opening, which allows more or less light in during the exposure. The larger or wider the aperture, the smaller the “Fnumber.” For a night shot, set a wider aperture, that is a low “Fnumber,” to let in the most starlight. An Fnumber of f/2.8 or lower works well in the dark of night.

7. Adjust your ISO. The last primary setting, ISO, concerns your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light it will capture. But take note: when you increase the ISO, you also increase the level of “noise” in the photo, impacting the quality of the image. For starters, try an ISO between 2000 to 4000 depending on your camera and the degree of darkness.

8. Let your tripod do the work. After nailing down the camera settings, let your tripod maintain perfect stillness for the entire exposure. To increase stability, you can always hang additional weight, such as your pack, from the spring loaded hook located in the bottom of the tripod’s center column (available on MeFOTO tripods). Also, because even your finger pressing the shutter button can create slight camera shake, use a two second timer to take the shot!

Using a 10 second timer and the sturdy MeFOTO Globetrotter, you can capture an epic night time “selfie

Using a 10 second timer and the sturdy MeFOTO Globetrotter, you can capture an epic night time “selfie

9. Trial and error is a good thing. After you test out your initial camera settings, double check the image for focus and lighting. Are your stars tack sharp? Is the photo too dark or too light? If anything is off, adjust your focus or settings accordingly, and try again!

10. Experiment and have fun. Once you meet the goal of nailing down the right settings and capturing tack-sharp stars, the next step is to simply experiment. For example, you can get creative with artificial light in the foreground. Use a headlamp, a flashlight, or lantern. To mute or more evenly distribute the light, cover it with a white cloth (e.g., a shirt or a bandana).

A popular subject to use when backpacking is your tent. Use of a dim headlamp or other artificial light can give the tent a warm glow to your shot. Settings: 30 secs, f/2.8, ISO3200. But, above all, have fun exploring the visuals only the starry night sky can offer!

A popular subject to use when backpacking is your tent. Use of a dim headlamp or other artificial light can give the tent a warm glow to your shot. Settings: 30 secs, f/2.8, ISO3200.

But, above all, have fun exploring the visuals only the starry night sky can offer!

  Follow Scott's Adventures on his Website , Instagram , Facebook , Twitter , and Snapchat (@scott_kranz).

 

Follow Scott's Adventures on his Website , Instagram , Facebook , Twitter , and Snapchat (@scott_kranz).


Match Your Favorite Decade - Build Your Very Own MeFoto Roadtrip Tripod

  by MeFOTO Blog

Be the first to design your very own Aluminum MeFOTO RoadTrip Tripod. There are over 792 combinations! Custom build your own by choosing your favorite colors. 

You can start from scratch or start with an inspiration from our RoadTrip Gallery. You can choose from Donatello, Rebel, Fruit Punch, Halloween, T-Stark, B Banner, Ireland, Thriller, Mardi Gras, Plum, Limeaid, Chic and many many more. 

Purchase yours right now for $249 and the shipping is FREE!

Go to www.mefoto.com/byo to build your own today!


The SideKick360 Plus: Our Popular Smartphone Adapter - SuperSized!!

  by MeFOTO Blog
sidekick360_Plus.jpg

Hey, out there... are ya'll lovin' your supersized phones? I know here at MeFOTO headquarters, we don't know how we ever lived without them.

Well, if you missed the good news or just never got the word, MeFOTO now has a version of the popular SideKick360 especially for photography-loving owners of plus-size phones in the 76–91mm range. (That's you iPhone 6 Plus and SamSung Galaxy Note owners!)

Never thought about a smartphone adapter before? Consider:

What’s your favorite photography centric app, Instagram? Snapchat? Vine?
Whatever your choice may be, chances are the SideKick360/360 Plus is as essential as the filter you throw on that hilariously embarrassing photo of your friend tossing back a few too many on Saturday night.

Having a good hair day? This adapter is perfect for selfies upon selfies, and with a 360 degree rotating ball head, it’s as flexible as those yoga pants that make your outfit worth taking a picture of.

If time-lapse and video are more your flavor, we can promise you stability and solid support to keep your smartphone right where you need it.

The best part? The SideKick360 Plus comes in 12 colors so you can match your MeFOTO tripod.

Now, in celebration of this glorious spring day, we invite you take a minute and join us for some SideKick360 fun:


5 Awesome Last Minute Gifts for Photographers

  by MeFOTO Blog       Category Fun, gifts       Tags Wild Blue Yonder, Polarizing filter, sidekick360, LM-10 Sweet Spot Lens, Lensbaby, Photojojo Mobil Light Kit, SpiderPro, last minute gifts, gifts for photographers

It's not too late!! For those who may have left holiday shopping to the last minute (ahem), here are 5 unique gift ideas for the photographer on your list:

1. Mobile Light Kit

For the iphoneographer who's ready to take their photography to the next level, PhotoJoJo's put together a tiny, but mighty Mobile Light Kit. Loaded with a Pocket Spotlight, Pocket Reflector, and Rainbow Filter Set, the kit pulls together everything needed to extend a shooting day, even out harsh shadows and correct skin tones. Even if your receipient of choice knows nothing about lighting, the included Guide to Photo EnLIGHTenment points the way with whimsical illustrations and clear step-by-step instructions.

2. Wild Blue Yonder Circular Polarizing Filter

Ever rock a pair of polarized shades and stand in awe of the deep blue skies and saturated colors? That's what Wild Blue Yonder is all about. Added to their favorite lens, this multi-coated filter gives an outdoor photographer creative control of the light, contrast and reflections from things like glass and water. Available in 8 sizes and 5 colors, MeFOTO has created a filter that fits both camera lens and personal style!

3. Lensbaby Sweet Spot Phone Lens

Have a photo-snapping, drama-loving, on-the-go BFF on your list? Help her (or him!) add some drama to their shots with the LM-10 Sweet Spot Lens for Mobile. The newest lens from the imaginative folks at Lensbaby lets anyone create artsy images with a "sweet spot" of focus surrounded by blur. Use the Lensbaby app to move the point of focus or change lighting to create uniquely beautiful images. Take advantage of the second metal ring to stack other phone lenses (telephoto, fisheye) onto the end for even more dramatic effects!

4. SideKick360 SmartPhone Adapter

Timelapse, slow-mo, panaromas, night photography - the current crop of smartphone cameras has some amazing capabilities when it comes to capturing the world in photos and video. Ironically, the key to creating the best images using any of these high tech processes still comes down to one decidedly low-tech factor - stability. That phone needs to be on a tripod and locked down! Cue the SideKick360 SmartPhone Adapter. With an Arca Swiss style base built-in, the SideKick360 can stand alone or easily mount to virtually any tripod. It's rotating 360° ball joint quickly switches from vertical to horizontal and locks in any position making it ideal for capturing both photo and video. Plus, it's available in 12 colors so choosing your pal's favorite should be a snap!

5. SpiderPro Single Camera System

For anyone who carries their camera for hours at a time (or ever dreamed of carrying an "Old West" six-gun!), the SpiderPro Single Camera System is a great find. With its all-metal construction, the SpiderPro was designed for the sport, action, event and wedding pro-shooter as a quick-draw, comfortable no straps and no-nonsense camera carrying tool. The SpiderPro Camera Holster is designed to take the weight of pro gear away from the upper body and put it at the waist - the most ergonomic place to carry heavy gear. Personally, I love that I can carry my camera at-the-ready all day and not end up with sore shoulders that night!

So there you have it. Five awesome products for your best photo shooting pals. What are you waiting for? Order today and some stores are still offering free shipping!!