Keith Liew is a landscape and astro-photographer and some of his most memorable experiences are of the Milky Way in Indonesia. With his passion for photography, read this article as he shares his knowledge and experiences on astrophotography.

Plan

To begin, the very essential element for astrophotography is a plan. Plan the perfect location, directions of the astronomy object and the weather forecast. It is crucial to understand your surrounding environment, the subjects and manage your time wisely. Arriving at the location at least an hour earlier gives you time to set up your gear and locate a good spot to compose your shot.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV  | f/2.5 | ISO 6400 | 25s

Equipment

The camera to capture astrophotography requires the ability to shoot in low light and be noise free. It is also important that the camera has a dynamic range to shoot long exposure shots. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV‘s dynamic range helps to recover some shadows without increasing the noise. With this 30.4-megapixel camera, my shots are sharp and detailed making a difference when cropping and composing photos. Canon’s friendly user menu interface, buttons and functions allow me to master the camera without any difficulties.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM | f/5.6 | ISO 400 | >1024s

The Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM wide-angle zoom lens captures a wider view, and at the same time absorbs more light. The ever-trustworthy Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens helps get up-close shots of the Milky Way galaxy. Lastly, a steady tripod is an essential for low light photography.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM | f/2.8 | ISO 800 | 119s

For deep space astrophotography, use a star tracker to move the camera at the same speed as the stars. This helps to take longer exposure photos without any star trails.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM | f/2.8 | ISO 2000 | 119s

Settings

If the location is dark, a lower shutter speed captures more lights. However if light pollution is present, lower down the shutter speed or ISO to prevent overexposure. To capture the Milky Way in a dark location, use a 16mm wide angle lens and set exposure to 25 seconds, ISO between 1 600-3 200 with the biggest aperture.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM | f/2.8 | ISO 3200 | 5s

To minimise visible star trails at the pixel level, follow the 500 rule and for higher resolution cameras, set a faster shutter speed. The EOS 5D Mark IV is able to handle ISO up to 32 000 (expandable to 102 400) so I am able to increase the camera ISO to compensate the shutter speed. This helps to gather more lights to the sensor and capture the shot faster.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/2.5 | ISO 12800 | 10s

To photograph the Northern Lights, increase the shutter speed to capture more details. Use manual focus on a distant object with the viewfinder or LCD screen to ensure that the image turns out sharp.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF400mm f/5.6L USM | f/5.6 | ISO 1000 | 1.6s

Patience

Lastly, an astro-photographer needs to have lots of patience (and, luck!). Take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery after you press shutter button. Every long exposure photo requires time to process as the sensor needs to gather more light.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/2.5 | ISO 12800 | 5s

Play back photos you have taken to ensure your photo is sharp, properly exposed, focused and composed. Spend a little more time to capture the perfect shot to be stored in your heart and the eyes of the infinite astrophotography fans.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/5.6 | ISO 12800 | 10s

To view more of Keith Liew’s breathtaking astrophotography works, head to https://500px.com/keithliew!