Greg Frozley's top five tips for photographing the night's stars 

click to enlarge Blue Moon or Blood Moon over the Garden of the Gods - GREG FROZLEY
  • Greg Frozley
  • Blue Moon or Blood Moon over the Garden of the Gods
Here's a rundown of the top five tips for photographing stars according to Greg Frozley. It's a bit detailed, but if you're going to locate the Milky Way for photographs, you'll need it. 

1)  Choose a dark sky location on a moonless night, ideally at least an hour's drive from major city lights.  Here's a useful map.

2)  Minimum required equipment: DSLR, mirrorless, or advanced point-and-shoot camera with Manual setting option. Whatever the camera, you'll need a wide-angle lens (24 mm or wider) with an aperture of at least f/2.8 or brighter, and a sturdy tripod. 

3)  Camera settings to start with: ISO 5000, 10-25 second exposure (based on lens focal length), and aperture set to f/2.8 or brighter. To keep stars looking more like dots instead of lines, Frozley uses the 300 rule for calculating exposure time: 300 divided by focal length (300/24 = 12.5). He typically shoots for 13 seconds with a 24 mm lens.

4)  To focus on stars, find a bright star in the sky and put camera in live view mode.  Zoom in all the way, start with your focus set to infinity, then start adjusting until the stars are as small as possible. If your lens has vibration control or a "steady shot" feature, be sure to disable when shooting with a tripod — leaving it on decreases sharpness of the images.

5)  The time of year will dictate when and where the Milky Way will be visible in the night sky. This time of year, late spring, the Milky Way isn't visible until after midnight, but in August it will appear after 10:00 PM. Assuming the Milky Way isn't visible with the naked eye, you'll generally want to aim your camera above the horizon to the East/Southeast in the spring, South during the summer months, and Southwest/West in the fall. To find the galactic core of the Milky Way, take a few test shots with the aforementioned settings to experiment. To brighten the sky, Frozley generally increases the ISO — even pushing between 6,400 and 10,000. 

Dress warm, have fun!
Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.


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