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Photography/Shooting the stars?


I have a Nikon D5100 DSLR and two lenses (The stock 18-55mm VR Lens and a Nikkor AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR High Power Zoom Lens). I have taken shots of the stars a few times and it looks just ok to me. I wanted to know what settings and zoom is best for shooting stars? Also, what would be best for shooting photo's of the moon as well. All I know is a high ISO and 30 second shutter far away from light pollution is good, and when I shot the moon I did a low ISO with the zoom lens at 300mm. I was wondering if you have any good techniques or setting I don't know, or have overlooked?

I'm not an expert on this one, but have done it a few times.  First, you need a tripod to keep the camera steady.  The idea is to have as short a shutter speed as you can.  The reason is the earth is turning and the stars will blur if you use a long exposure.  SO, crank your ISO up to about 1600, maybe even 3200.  Set you aperture to your fastest, which is f4.5.  Block off the viewfinder by either hanging your hat on it or using a piece of black tape.  I would start with a 30 second exposure and keep checking the LCD.  For a moon shot, remember that moonlight is reflected sunlight.  Try something like ISO 800 and 1/800s shutter, f11 and go from there after checking the LCD.  This is easiest to do if you set your "mode" dial to M, for manual.  This type of photography is call "astro photography," and you should find a lot of info if you search that.  Hopefully I got you started in the right direction.

Good luck!
Kent in SD


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Kent Staubus


I am an experienced outdoor photographer My knowledge base includes digital Nikons, use of flash, vintage & historical cameras, and shooting both medium format and large format film. My specialty is night photography, both with or without flash set ups. I am primarily an outdoor photographer and shoot railroads, country churches, abandoned buildings, and candid people photos. I shoot a lot of travel photos in places like Canada, Scotland, Hawaii, Iceland, and of course the Northern Plains.


Have been taking photos daily for the past 15 years, with total experience of 26 years. I have had a number of photos in magazines, including a few cover shots. I am proficient with camera gear made from the 1850s to present.

TRAINS magazine, Railroads Illustrated Magazine

Bachelor Degree from University of Kansas

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