Skip to main content

Photographing Meteor Showers From Planning to Post Processing first post in the mini series



Photographing Meteor Showers  

From Planning to Post Processing

first post in the mini series

Before beginning I will state that moving beyond this point is done so at your own risk. 
I will not, and can not be held responsible for injury or damage to your equipment, your person, or a third party. 
You are hopefully a responsible adult and can make decisions based upon your own experience.  I never would endorse an illegal activity or one that would put someone at risk.




This was instantly one of the favorite images in my collection.  It was also the inspiration for this blog post.
Several people expressed an interest in how this photograph was made.
Nothing in this photograph is “made up”, it is however several images that have been blended together to produce a single image of the Orionid Meteor Shower.
This intent of this series of posts is to provide a sort of “walk through” on producing this image.  In it I will discuss everything from equipment used, to planning the shot, to processing the final image.
By the end of the series, I hope to impart the knowledge and skills needed to produce images of your own, done in a similar style .

Photographic Equipment Required
Photographing meteor showers will give you a leniency that you do not get in regular landscape astrophotography. 
In regular landscape astrophotography the main interest is quite often the milky way or other diffuse structures in the night sky.  
Regular landscape astrophotography is made easier with cameras and lenses that are of optically higher quality.  That’s not to say that you can’t capture a quality image with an older camera or a slower lens. 
Having both does however make regular landscape astrophotography easier.
For shooting meteor showers a regular DSLR “kit” can achieve the results you’re looking for.
You will however require a sturdy tripod so as the camera does not move during your long exposures.

Other Useful Equipment
Before Throughout the series I will provide you with other things that I find helpful when planning or executing a  meteor shower shot.  My list will be a solid starting point.  I will caution however that I still run into situations that I am not prepared for.  My list should not be taken as the be all to end all list of equipment required.  I'm sure you will find several things that I've forgotten.

First things first
Before we begin, I think it would be helpful to have a clear understanding of what a “shooting star” really is.


Progressive Definition of Shooting Star
Quite often people are confused as to what exactly a shooting star is.  I think it would be easier to explain by using a series of definitions and piecing it together.

All Shooting Stars start off as debris in our solar system.  This debris can be the size of a grain of sand, or it can be the size of a large boulder.  This debris is called a Meteoroid.

When a Meteoroid large enough travels through Earths atmosphere it creates an atmospheric ram pressure that heats the meteoroid and creates a glowing trail of glowing gases and melted particles of the meteoroid.  This is when it is called a Meteor or “Shooting Star”

Every once in a while a Meteoroid / Shooting Star will reach the surface of Earth.  It is at this point that a Meteoroid becomes a Meteorite .


Planning the Shot 
This will be the topic covered in the next post in the series.  I quickly discovered that planning is probably one of the largest sections in this series.  I want to dedicate the time required to produce a list of things that somewhat resembles a complete list.  This would be impossible to do in short fashion, so I have decided to dedicate a separate post in the series to the subject.


I hope that I've peaked your interest, and that you will keep your eyes open for the next post in the instructional series.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make the Stars POP!

If there is one thing I've learned about processing night shots.

There are as many opinions and as many ways to do things as there have been sunrises! With that being said, I thought I'd share another technique that I've employed a couple of times

This technique is very simple and very effective.  The nice thing about my tutorial is that I show you how to do it yourself.  I’m not a fan of “presets” that take the adjustment factor out of your hands.  I’d rather show someone how to do it for themselves.  That way you can actually expand your knowledge and learn to help yourself and others around you.

In this particular “How to” we will be increasing the size and brightness of the larger stars.  This technique can also be used to bring out the natural colour of the stars or any other adjustments you may want to use.




Like most of my tutorials, I take the approach that you have a basic knowledge of photoshop.  If you don’t and need some further assistance with this tutorial, please…

How to Reduce Star Trails

600/(18x1.5)= &%*@!*$

So, you either didn't follow the 600 rule, you're bad at math, or you made a mistake! Now you've got a shot that you absolutely love but the stars look like eggs, or worse yet, they are mini trails!
Don't scrap that photo without at least trying this little know trick of the trade.
In this tutorial I will teach you how to remove small trails to make your stars look crisper.
****  Does it always work??  Nope ****
But heck, why not at least give it a go before deleting that photo.
The Original Image
Here is my original image opened in Photoshop.  You will notice that the stars look like mini trails. This particular image was exposed for 43 seconds (23 seconds longer than I usually expose an image).

The Original Image Magnified
Here you will notice how the stars are trails and not as crisp as they should be. Normally most people would throw this image out.

Stars Layer Selection
Start off by selecting the sky.  I used the marquee tool but you can use an…

How to stop camera lens fog

How to stop camera lens fog
Astrophotography, Landscape Astrophotography, and just plain old Night Shooting are difficult enough.  Using the right lens, setting the ISO correctly and getting the exposure time correct are all issues that plague photographers shooting at night (and other times of day).  
Never mind the fact that fact that "playing" in the dark has several dangers, from wild animals, to wilder people, and even police that thing you're up to no good.  Mother Nature figured she'd have a go at you also. If you have ever gone out shooting night scenes, wide-field astrophotography, or landscape astrophotography, you've probably experienced the dreaded lens fog.
What causes lens fog
The easy explanation To explain this issue in simple terms, your camera's lens will fog most times when the lens is colder than the air surrounding the lens.
The more in depth explanation When the air near the lens is cooled by the lens, the relative humidity of the surrounding a…