Ep 139: How to photograph the night sky with special guest, astrophotographer Michael Goh

If you want to take mind-blowing photographs of the stars and the night sky, you can’t go past the amazing work of astrophotographer Michael Goh. Whether you are taking time lapse shots or panoramic night-time landscapes, this award-winning photographer is generous with this tips on how to get the ideal photo.

We chat to Michael so that we can bring his incredible techniques to you.

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Show notes

Above: Michael Goh

 

Michael purchased his first DSLR in November 2010 and has been self-taught by reading, websites, youtube and a lot of experimentation. He shoots fauna, flora, liquid macros, off camera flash, macros, and some portraiture. And, of course, astrophotography.

Achievements:

Social Media links
Website: http://astrophotobear.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/astrophotobear/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/astrophotobear/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0OAxQSiiygh1HO3Yq-l3CA

 

Tell us about yourself:
I’m located in Perth, Western Australia. I’m married (21 years) to my fantastic and very understanding better half and wife – Catherine. I have 2 great daughters – Jessica (17) and Charlotte (14) – who I believe will exceed me artistically. I’m a finance professional – having been in the industry now for more than 22 years. I have worked within banks and also self-employed as a finance and mortgage broker – primarily with commercial clients, but I also look after personal clients as well.

I purchased my first DSLR in November 2010 after driving across Australia in 2009. Coincidentally – it was a podcast that helped tip me into thinking about taking better photos and ultimately get a DSLR (7 photography questions).

I’m a self-taught photographer – mainly by reading books, youtube and a lot of experimenting.

I do photograph more than just landscapes and astrophotography images. I generally don’t publish those due to privacy, however, I’ve had some consents recently, so will probably put some of those up soon.

What is astrophotography?
Astrophotography is really any photographing of astronomical objects. These include stars, nebula, planets in the night sky.

I specialise in landscape astrophotography – where the foreground landscape is a major feature. While I love seeing images of distant galaxies – I like keeping it “simple” and “accessible” and being able to compose based on the foreground elements (which you can’t really do with a telescope).

How did you get into shooting the night sky?

I’ve always been a bit of a science fiction fan. Maybe around early/mid-2011 – I saw the amazing liquid art of Corrie White. This catapulted my direction into photographing things that you can’t readily see with the naked eye – hence a lot of flash work, long exposure etc.

What gear are you using now?

My primary camera is a canon 6d
Tamron 15-30 f2.8
Tamron 70-200 f2.8
Tamron 24-70 f2.8
Tamron 90mm macro f2.8
Canon 17-40 f4
Filters – combination of Nisi, Lee and Hi-tech
Wireless and cable remotes

Tripods and light stands

Canon 550d (first dslr)
18-55mm
55-250mm
Nikon AW1 (used for wave photography)
Nikon d5100 (won at competition)

Speedlites –
Various transceivers
8 speedlites
1 godox 360ii portable strobe
Various light modifiers –
Gary fong lightsphere
Gels
7′ umbrella
Smdv s70 softbox
Others softboxes
Reflectors

What gear do you recommend for someone starting out on a tight budget?

Almost any manual camera – preferably a DSLR and preferably – with manual focus and controls.
Preferably a tripod, but I’m okay with using anything – like a rock for example

I’m comfortable shooting the milky way with an entry level DSLR with 18-55mm lens

What apps do you like to use?
My preferred apps are:
Skysafari – on IOS and android
Photopills – on IOS and android

An example of solar imaging on site – photographingspace.com.

An example of light pollution maps
What are some luxury items that you think would help take better astro images?

Hand warmers

Full frame cameras tend to have better low light performance.
Wide fast lens – with low coma. Not necessarily more expensive
Wireless intervelometer
Equatorial mounts
Light pollution filters – maybe
Common sense

Above: 1 – Entry – Nikon d5100 ISO 3200 18mm (18-55) 3.5 30s on a tripod – lightroom edit only – test shot
Above: 2 – Passage of Time – Star trail of about 2 hours. Canon 6d 17-40mm F4 lens
Above: 3 – Exploring the Great Expanse – Panorama image of 32 images @ 15mm F2.8 ISO 6300 30s using a Canon 6d and Tamron 15-30mm
Above: 4 – The Light Within -The Light Within – Canon 6d tamron 15-30 @ 15mm F2.8 ISO 6400 25s x 29 image panorama.
Above: Unprocessed raw image in jpg format for “the wanderer”
Above: 5 – The Wanderer – Canon 6d Tamron 15-30mm F2.8 at F3.2 15mm ISO 6400 25s.
Above: Distant Lands cover
Above: Distant lands blog

The Basics

Wide angle lens
Avoid shooting wide open
Pick a spot away from light pollution ( use this map http://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html
Focus
-live view
-or focus on bright star in the distance
-remember to turn off image stabilization (if your lens has it)
Iso 3200 crop sensor
ISO 6400 full frame
25 secs ( sharp stars)

Tripod
Post-production

BONUS
Michael has kindly offered a link to a dng file for a milky way test image that people can play around with in post processing.

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