Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.–Albert Einstein
Astrophotography is all about discovering new things. Either you are a beginner or the one who has been doing astrophotography for years, you cannot deny that there is always something new to know, something more to learn. You need to sort out so many things every time.
Are you sure that you are not ending up making a common astrophotography mistake in this process? Some of them are so small that you might not have even noticed. But even a small one can ruin your astro- photographs.
Well, it is completely okay to make mistakes. Finding them out and solving them is what matters. Check out the article to ensure if you are making any common mistakes. We have tried to gather down the most common mistakes after a long research and analysis.
15 Common Astrophotography Mistakes
1.Investing too much money at the beginning
Got some savings and desire to start astrophotography with that? That's great. But don't make the mistake of spending too much at the beginning. First, take some time. Many people get all excited seeing astrophotography on the internet and buy all the equipment without getting to know it better. Then regret.
So, even if you can spend more, start with the least. Start with the DSLR you already have. Or just simply buy one to start. Go on astrophotography trips. Join with local astrophotographers. See for yourself what astrophotography really is. Do you really enjoy this hobby? This might not be your thing.
However, if you still feel passionate after spending much time with astrophotography, only then take the next step. Buy some more gears. Give some more time. Then go ahead with the flow.
2. Not having basic knowledge about the night Sky
Nowadays almost everything is available on the internet. As a result, you might think that there is no need to learn the basics. But this is the mistake that most beginners make. It's not like you have to become a scholar yet you do need basic knowledge to carry on efficiently.
Don't just use softwares to detect and recognise objects without knowing anything about the objects. Because the softwares often makes errors and gets the wrong frames. Moreover, you can not capture the objects amazingly unless you understand what they really are.
Get familiar with the movement of the night sky first. Then, gain an understanding of the night sky objects. Be curious about them. Learn about the constellations first. Try to identify the visible planets with naked eye.
Observe the daily movement of the sky. At the same time, enjoy your experience with the night sky. Then start photography and that's how you can be a real astrophotographer.
3. Not planning gears according to target
Are you photographing all types of night sky objects with the same gears? Hold on. Stop it.
Plan the gears according to the types of astro- images you want to capture. Like for capturing a wide angle astro- photograph, you need a wide angle lens. But if you just want to capture a landscape, your DSLR with a tripod is enough.
While for the moon and other nearby planets, you may like to consider buying a refractor telescope at an affordable price. For deep sky and distant celestial objects, a reflecting telescope works well. Or you can simply stick to a catastrophic telescope which can get you brighter images with an easier carry option.
4. Not understanding the gears
If you are just reading how- to- use and following it blindly, you are going to stumble soon. As all of the instruction books, experts' suggestions and so on, don't cover everything. You need to gain the understanding to make it work.
You need to know about every gear of an astrophotography kit. Understand them throughout. Like, for understanding telescopes; know about the types of telescope and how they work, how to focus with a telescope, how the eyepiece of a telescope works and so on.
5. Selecting wrong location
If you are frequently photographing the sky from a certain place, give it a thought again. Is it even suitable for doing astrophotography? You might be making a big mistake.
For a place being right for you to photograph the night sky, it must be-
- free from any kind of physical obstructions, like trees, buildings or anything that creates hindrance to your observation. It might look like that you will manage or focus on the target objects only. But that does not really happen in most of the cases. You need to have a wider clear sight free from any kind of hindrance. Even for your landscape or wide angle astro photograph, ensure the trees or buildings are not becoming a hindrance rather than being a foreground.
- free from the things that create atmospheric disturbance or anything which is bad for astro- images. Those might not look like obstructions but have a deep effect on your astro- images. For instance, if you are focusing your telescope right over your chimney to photograph, it would create instability of air. That means the air is warmer and there is more humidity which is not good for your astro- images. It increases light pollution and also hinders the light of objects from getting captured. Likewise, photographing near a street light also creates light pollution and hinders the real light of the objects.
6. Choosing wrong time
Do you just go out at night and try to capture planets without thinking about the time? If yes, then this is where you are messing up. A big reason why you are not getting to photograph the best scenes.
You need to stick to different times for capturing different night objects in their best form. Like for photographing planets, opposition is the best time as the planets look brightest at that time. Whereas for capturing the most amazing milky way views, you need to follow the milky way calendar.
7. Over expectation
You can not master astrophotography in a short time. Don't even expect to do so as that would bring nothing but disappointment.
It takes years of dedication, patience and time to be a good astro- photographer. Thus your first astro- photographs might not even resemble the ones that got you into astrophotography. But don't give up. Those might not look good enough but they are something that you can call yours astro- photographs.
Moreover, everyone has started from somewhere. Even the astrophotographers that you follow regularly, might have taken wrose photos than you in the beginning. So, take your own time to grow. Do not get disappointed by over- expectations. Know that good things take time.
8. Waiting for dark to set up
If you always wait for the dark to set up, you are making a very common mistake. You might already know that it takes time to set up the whole astrophotography kit properly. Even if you have been doing astrophotography for years. Because the tools take time to focus and adjust.
Of course, the beautiful view won't wait for the equipment to set up. So, stay ready from beforehand. Set up already. Then wait for the dark.
9. Rushing while setting up
Who would want to miss the chance of capturing a marvelous astro- photograph? It is so tempting for an astrophotographer that you might rush to it. Well, that won't be of much help. Because too much rush makes things go wrong. As Moliere has said,
“Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error.”
Thus you might end up fixing the wrong that you made while rushing for the whole time instead of photographing. Therefore, spare a few minutes more to set up. Don't rush.
10. Attaching the camera in a wrong way
Attaching the camera with your telescope is the next step to go deeper into astrophotography if you have started with just a DSLR. It is a very basic step. But don't make the mistake of taking it too lightly.
If the process of attaching goes wrong, all the images will get blurry. You can't fix them, no matter whatever you do. Make sure to attach the camera with your telescope in the right way.
11. Not letting the kit cool
Now that you have set up the tools without rushing, you might be thinking to start right away. No, don't start already.
Because some of your tools need time to cool down and adjust with the temperature outside. Especially your telescope. When you don't give needed time that creates turbulence inside the telescope. It makes the photos blurry. This problem becomes a little bit more intense when it is a Newtonian or Dobsonian telescope even if you fix focus or collimation. Therefore give it at least 30 minutes to cool down.
12. Not utilizing narrowband filters
Did you think narrowband filters are meant to be used in mono cameras only? Hope not. Because it's a very common misconception or a mistake you can say.
Narrowband filters have way more benefits than you might think. Even if you are using a color camera. A good narrowband filter would let you capture more contrasts. It saves your astro- images from the city light pollution and much more.
13. Capturing in JPEG format
Most of the DSLRs and some other cameras are set to capture in JPEG format by default. Moreover, JPEG files take less space which makes it look less troublesome to you. But don't make this mistake.
Capturing in JPEG format will lead you to lose important details of the views. That is why experts suggest shooting astro- photographs in RAW files. RAW files take more space but capture the smaller details than a finest JPEG file. Moreover, it will give you more flexibility while post- processing.
Once your eyes adjust to the dark, the dim objects look brighter to you. This leads you to do the mistake of underexposing your astro- images. As a result, they look brighter to your eyes while photographing but don't look the same when you later transfer them to your computer. If you fix the exposure while post processing, there will be much noise.
The solution is, learning to read your histogram. It is a representation of the tonal values of the photographs through a graph. Though relying on histogram is not a good idea while day photography, it is important for taking night photographs.
15. Bad focus
It is natural to get excited seeing a wonderful night sky view. Especially while photographing meteor showers or eclipses as you might be afraid of missing the scenes. But don't forget to focus properly out of excitement. It is a common mistake that many beginners make.
You can not fix a bad focus in the post- processing. So, better focus your camera lens properly while photographing in dark. The best idea is to focus manually. Moreover, it is important to learn focusing with a telescope to do better astrophotography.
“If you want to grow, you need to get over any fear you may have of making mistakes.” John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.
Every mistake is a new opportunity to make your next astrophotography session better. Leave a comment sharing any of your astrophotography mistakes to help other people grow. Happy photographing!