Astrophotography Workshops

Of course, photography is a passion of mine and photographing the night sky is something that I have found particularly rewarding. I also have a strong passion for teaching and helping others to realize their goals. (I spend most of my professional time teaching classes at UNL preparing students for careers in the golf industry.) It just makes sense to bring the two together in the form of an astrophotography workshop! I have led several sessions in the past and sharing the excitement of that first Milky Way image with a student is exhilarating!


My very first photograph of the Milky Way! (taken May 28, 2014 near Nipton, CA. Canon EOS 70D; Rokinon 16 1:2; 25" f/2 ISO3200)

My workshops involve a session covering the basics of gear, planning and some post processing practice (so you can get your images ready for the world quickly) followed by an imaging session under the stars.

If you're a seasoned astrophotographer, there is still a lot that can be gained from a workshop. Every trip out to image is unique and I keep the groups small so that I can accommodate everyone at their individual level. For the more experienced, we can dive into techniques like panoramas, zoom bursts and I'll even have a tracking mount on hand for longer exposures!

Dates Available:

Stay tuned for a possible October Date!

(click link to submit application form via Google form) Once your form is submitted, I will email you to inform you if you are in or on the wait list. My target attendance for each session is around 12 to allow me to work with each individual.

Cost:

My goal is to keep this as affordable as possible to expose as many people to the art of astrophotography as I can while still giving individual attention to everyone. The cost at this point is set at $45/person which includes food and some refreshments. This low price hinges on my ability to secure venues at low cost.

Payments will be collected at the start of the workshop and can be made via Credit Card or Cash. At the time of payment, each participant is expected to sign a basic liability waiver as well. Both the waiver and payment must be made prior to any participation in the workshop.

Schedule (example and subject to adjustment):

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM: Dinner and Post processing/gear talk
     Location: UNL East Campus, Keim Hall room 211

8:00 PM - 8:30 Travel to shoot location
     Stagecoach Lake SRA (Park Permit required for each vehicle)

8:30 PM - 11:30 PM Imaging under the stars (Stay as short or long as you like, MW Sets at 11:41PM)

Gear to bring:

For the post processing portion you may bring a laptop computer with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop installed (Camera Raw works too if your not down with the Lightroom thing). I will provide a RAW image file to follow along with. If you just want to watch me go through the workflow and not follow along, that is OK too.

For the shoot you will want to bring the following: (if you have questions on any of the following, please ask me!)

  • Interchangeable Lens Camera- Can be a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera body. Must have the ability to manually control the exposure. The ability to shoot RAW files is a plus. Generally, the more recent the camera the better as we will be pushing the ISO a bit and newer cameras control the noise better under these conditions. Ability to shoot ISO 3200 or 6400 is a plus. I usually shoot with a Canon 6D.
  • A lens- You'll be pretty stuck without it... Generally speaking, a wide angle is preferred since the Milky Way is huge. A wide aperture is also desireable (known as a "fast" lens). The ability to dial down to f/2.8 (or a lower number) is preferred, but your f/3.5 kit lens will work! I have used a number of lenses but my go-tos are my Rokinon lenses. I usually use my 24mm (f/1.4) or my 14mm (f/2.8). There are a number of awesome options out there! If you are planning on renting/buying a new lens for this, I would recommend staying away from the Canon/Nikon prime (non-zooms) as they are super expensive and sort of crummy for this kind of work. The products made by Rokinon/Samyang (same company) are known for being great for astrophotography and are fairly inexpensive. Note that most of their offerings are MANUAL FOCUS only (autofocus will not work on the stars anyway).
  • A tripod- we will be doing long exposures to bring out the details in the night sky. Often pushing 30 seconds. I have heard recent stories of imaging the Milky Way without a tripod using the apparently amazing image stabilization technology offered by Olympus, however you will likely be unhappy with your own results (try it if you must though!). A sturdy tripod will really help you to get those nice, sharp, clean images of the stars!
  • An intervalometer or cable release- A cable shutter release will help manage any shaking of the camera during exposure. These are really handy and make things much more efficient. I have had many people try to use the wireless remotes and while they're cool for a lot of types of shots, I prefer the wired type, specifically the type with timers built-in (intervalometer). Yes your wireless one will work if that's what you have. If you don't have one, you can use the 2 second timer built into most cameras, but this slows you down :).
  • Batteries- I usually have at least 5 with me at any given time. If your battery goes dead, you're probably done for the night. If you're a mirrorless camera shooter, you probably already realize that those things chew through batteries like crazy. I recommend having at least two fully charged batteries. 3 would be better.
  • Ample Memory Cards- I would recommend having two 16 gb cards on hand (more space is fine of course). Kind of like batteries. You don't want to run out of space or have a card fail and be done for the night.
  • Headlamp- Flashlights work but headlamps are better. They allow for hands-free use. It is important to have (and use) the red light feature on most lamps now. This preserves your night vision (and that of those around you). Don't need anything fancy. I usually buy the ones in the checkout areas at Lowes. (extra batteries for these are good to have too)
  • Other things that are nice- Folding chairs, snacks, insect repellent, proper clothing, really anything that will make you comfortable.

I am looking forward to helping you create fantastic images of our night sky that you'll be proud to hang on your wall!


Image from the July Workshops at Stagecoach Lake.