DATA DOCTORS

Yes, you can take presentable astronomy photos on phone camera

Oct 23, 2021, 6:30 AM
(Unsplash Photo)...
(Unsplash Photo)
(Unsplash Photo)

Q: Is it possible to get a decent picture using my smartphone for astrophotography?

A: While serious astrophotography requires a pile of expensive DSLR camera equipment, you can actually get decent images from your smartphone with a little work.

A couple of keys to capturing the night sky are focus and keeping the phone still as the shutter will need to be open for an extended period of time.

Get to know your camera settings

The only way to approach this type of photography is to learn how to use the manual settings on your smartphone’s camera app.

You’ll want to learn how to set the focus to infinity, increase the sensitivity to light (ISO), extend the exposure time and set a delay timer to take the shot.

If there’s a RAW option, you’ll want to turn it on so you have more to work with after you take the shot.

In some cases, such as newer Google Pixel smartphones, there may actually be an astrophotography setting already built into the camera app, usually in the low lighting or night sight mode.

Learning what your smartphone’s camera app can and can’t do will determine whether you’ll need to download a special app to capture the night sky.

Keep the camera still

A critical accessory for capturing the stars is a tripod since any movement of the camera will ruin the shot.

In addition to having the smartphone in a tripod, you’ll want to start the shot with either an external trigger such as wired headphones or use the delay timer to ensure the camera is perfectly still when it takes the shot.

Low light camera apps

If your smartphone’s built-in camera app lacks the features or settings to get a decent shot, there are a host of specialized apps you can download to improve your chances.

The NightCap Camera app for iPhone is a $3 app that provides manual controls along with dedicated astronomy modes for all types of low-light photography.

The ProCam X app for Android is a $5 app that will provide a plethora of manual controls if your stock camera app is lacking.

Photo editors

Although your picture may appear to be nothing but a black square on your phone’s screen, the stars you’re looking for can often be teased out with an editing app.

The best way to edit the images would be with an image-editing program on a computer since the screen is larger and the controls tend to be more refined.

Playing with the zoom and the various exposure and highlight levels on mobile editing apps such as Snapseed or Adobe Lightroom should allow you to bring out the celestial features right on your phone.

Composition

Instead of just pointing your camera straight up, try including items like buildings, trees or a distant horizon to make your images more interesting, especially if you doing long exposure shots.

Longer exposure times can also lead to star trails, which you may or may not want so it’s another area to explore.

There is a lot of trial and error to get through if you really want to get incredible night sky images, so make sure you’re willing to spend the time necessary to make it happen.

Data Doctors

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

In need of Gmail storage space cleanup tips? Here are a few to get you started

If you haven’t done much in the past to keep the clutter from building up in your Gmail account, there are a number of places where you can free up valuable storage space.
3 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Here are the latest online shopping tips for 2021

As the holiday seasons drives up purchase volumes, here are the latest online shopping safety tips.
10 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Column: Does Windows 11 Need Anti-Virus Software?

With all of the new security features in Windows 11, here's why you should consider security software packages.
17 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

What to consider when deciding whether to buy or rent Internet router, modem

There are pros and cons to both sides of the buy-versus-rent an internet modem/router question and there is no single answer for everyone.
24 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Data Doctors

Column: Why computer extended warranties are a waste

When it comes to computers, there are a variety of reasons that buying ‘extra protection’ up front can be a waste of money.
1 month ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

This is what you need to know about security for Windows 11

Here's what you need to know about Windows 11 security on your device.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
...
PNC BANK

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Yes, you can take presentable astronomy photos on phone camera