How to Photograph the Big Dipper

Have you ever wanted to photograph the Big Dipper? It is on of the easiest and probably the most famous grouping of stars in the sky.

Fail short using auto mode on your camera? I hear you - I was there buddy. Once I was laying in warm beaches in Turkey (around Izmir) it was night already, the view around me was just amazing, city lights, sea and stars... I spent all night stargazing and trying to photograph at least something using my camera... well... I ended up with nothing. Back then I had little clue of other shooting modes than auto.  Auto mode is not your best friend during night time.

In today's digital photography school tutorial I would love to start a new series of posts in astrophotography. The other day I spent couple of hours in dark night trying to shoot my first star trails. Thus, the result is far from ideal - I understood, star photography is damn interesting. 

Let's start with The Big Dipper photography:

The Big Dipper

The Big Dipper

Shot in my backyard on May 31, 2016. Shooting settings:18mm (kit lens) f4,5/ ISO 800, 10 seconds. Post processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Now, when shooting during nighttime a tripod is a must have, as it involves longer exposures and it's just not possible to avoid handshake during those longer exposures. A sturdy tripod is a must have. 

You can experiment with ISO settings by lowering it or raising up. Shoot in RAW mode, as it will give you more details later when post processing your image. 

In clear sky it's easy to capture The Big Dipper.

The Big Dipper is an asterism (not a constellation) of 7 stars, with four defining a "bowl" or "body" and three defining a "handle" or "head", that is recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures. These stars are the brightest of the formal constellation Ursa Major; six of them are second magnitude stars, while only Megrez (δ) is of third magnitude. The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, can be located by extending an imaginary line from Merak (β) through Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.

The Big Dipper Photography

The Big Dipper Photography

To make the Big Dipper photography more appealing to eye, include some interesting foreground (a tree, rock, water, desert and so on). In above picture I have captured the Big Dipper in pretty boring way - blue sky and a part of a tree (upper right corner). Included foreground can be easy light painted with a flash light thus supercharging your night photography. 

What do you think of the Big Dipper photography? Have you tried, share your thoughts in comments bellow!