This week I’ve started on the next rung of the Astrophotography ladder. Until now I was just taking a few hand-held shots of planets in the evening twilight. While they were nice shots, there is a lot more to astrophotography than that! What I’ve started experimenting with this week is using my very bright F1.4 30mm prime focus lens for longer tripod-mounted exposures. I’m already in love with my prime focus lens but this is yet another reason it’s the best €300 I’ve ever spent. I get a lot more use out of it than I do out of my zoom lenses.

To get this to work I obviously needed a tripod which I ordered a few weeks ago and which arrived on Monday. The other less-obvious thing you need is a remote. The Nikon D40 has a bulb mode but only if you set the shooting mode to the remote. That makes sense because the only way to use a bulb setting without camera shake is with some form of remote shutter release. Since the D40 doesn’t have a connector for an old-fassioned cable release the remote is the only option. I picked it up for about €30 so I’m happy enough with that.

Below are my first two pics. They look OK at this size but not at full size (hence no link for the full-sized version like I’d usually provide). These were 20 second exposures with my Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens and really the only problem with them is soft focus. There is no problem with star trails even at 20 seconds because the field of view is quite large.

Anyhow, here’s the photos. The first one shows Orion and you can clearly see M42 the Orion Nebular and the second one shows the Taurus region with the Pleiades or Seven Sisters clearly visible near the bottom.

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