This evening and through until the early hours the annual Ursid meteor shower is set to occur and the observing conditions will be ideal. According to Space.com the shower was first recorded in England in 1900 and the Ursid’s occur as the comet passes Earth and leaves behind “a trail of comet crumbs” or space debris.
For anyone who’s ever seen a meteor shower or a shooting star and attempted to photograph the scene, you will know how difficult it is to capture; cue lots of blank shots. Well we had a chat with photographer and our digital marketing officer Russ Norman who frequently acquires amazing shots of these occurrences and he’s given us some tips on how to get that money shot.
- Russ recommends using a DSLR camera rather than a camera phone or a film SLR.
- Take a red head lamp so your eyes adjust – this way you will be able to see as many stars as possible with the naked eye. This may not necessarily help your shot but it will make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable
- Shoot in RAW format to expose more detail in the sensor.
- Choose a location as dark as possible and minimal light pollution. Russ’s favourite for shooting the stars is Kielder Water in Northumberland as it’s categorically the darkest place in Europe.
- There are some great apps for stargazing, check out one of these to assist you with the direction and potential position of the milky way and the stars.
- Dress warm and comfortable and take a chair, you may be sat out in the cold for a while.
- Long exposure is the key to getting the shot – set up your DSLR for a 20 second exposure, this means while the shutter is open, any shooting stars/ meteors or light will be absorbed creating the shot.
- Use a tripod, any shaking will ruin the long exposure shot.
- Take something heated to draw out any condensation out of the lense, Russ told us, “The first time I went out my lense was full of condensation which ruined the images. I now take heat pads or hand warmers which works perfectly when placed on top of the lense.”
- If you don’t have access to a DSLR camera, Russ told us that some phones now have the ability to shoot long (20 sec) exposures, if yours has this function, you will be able to capture the shooting stars; but make sure you use a tripod as any shakes will ruin the shot.
Most importantly enjoy it, these are beautiful natural occurrences and the experience alone will make it all worthwhile.