Shoot for the stars

Last night was supposed to be the height of this year’s Perseids meteor shower, so I headed out again to try and get some photos.

This time, I actually played around with the manual settings on my phone’s camera a bit, so I will include that information the photos in the captions, for those who are interested. I resized the following photos by 50%, but the images are otherwise untouched.

f/1.5
Exposure time: 13 seconds
ISO 1600

This time, I headed straight to the old garden area, which is the darkest areas that is close to the house. As before, I had my phone on a GorillaPod and used voice commands to take the photos after positioning it.

In the above photo, you can see I caught a meteor on the bottom left. I did not actually catch many meteors in photos, and while I did see (but missed getting a photo of) one really bright meteor, followed by a flash when it hit the atmosphere, I didn’t actually see most of the meteors I managed to catch during the long exposures!

I think I may have simply gone out too early in the night, and it may have still been a bit too bright.

f/1.5
Exposure time: 20 seconds
ISO 1600

In the above photo, you can see some clouds, looking like a smudge on the bottom right. They were so thin and sparse, we could not actually see them ourselves.

f/1.5
Exposure time: 20 seconds
ISO 1600

After taking a few shots with the phone on the ground (and being tackled by a Potato Beetle, desperate for attention!), I ended up using the top of the straw bale as a surface.

This was good enough for Potato Beetle, too. After sniffing the phone, he laid down nearby and kept me company.

Much nicer than him jumping half way up me, and hanging on with his claws… 😮

f/1.5
Exposure time: 30 seconds
ISO 3200

While I was taking photos with my phone’s camera, my daughters came out with the DSLR on the tripod to give it a try.

I haven’t uploaded the card yet, but my daughter was very frustrated. Even at 30 seconds exposure time, the camera preview showed nothing but black. While it may not have been as light as the above 30 second exposure shot, it still shouldn’t have been black!

f/1.5
Exposure time: 30 seconds
ISO 1600

I just love how the Milky Way shows up. Especially in contrast with the trees.

f/1.5
Exposure time: 30 seconds
ISO 1600

One of the frustrating things about trying to take the photos is how many of them ended up being out of focus. The camera was on auto focus, so I finally switched that to manual. There is a sliding bar between a flower (macro) and mountain (landscape) icons. I set it as far as it would go towards landscape, but for some reason, the bar would adjust itself just short of that, on its own. I’d take a good picture, then the next one would be out of focus and, invariably, I would find the manual focus had changed on its own.

f/1.5
Exposure time: 30 seconds
ISO 1600

It took me many tries, but I finally got one where the Big Dipper could be clearly seen!

f/1.5
Exposure time: 30 seconds
ISO 1600

Before heading into the house, I couldn’t resist taking a few more photos from the East yard – and caught another meteor! 🙂

Hmm. Interesting. I selected what I thought were among the best photos from the many I took last night, and they all ended up having almost exactly the same properties. I know I adjusted the F stop, as well as trying out different ISO and exposure times. I guess f/1.5 and ISO 1600 for 30 seconds simply gave the best results!

It’s a pain in the butt using manual settings on a smart phone. Especially with how I have the GorillaPod set up so it lies almost parallel to the ground, resulting in a Pod leg blocking the part of the screen the adjustments are made. It is, however, worth it. I am so happy with how these photos turned out!

The Re-Farmer

4 thoughts on “Shoot for the stars

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