Need help to get some star shots

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Ken St John
In a few weeks (late May), we're planning to spend two nights at the View Hotel in Monument Valley (assuming the Navajo nation will open things back up by then). This will be our third visit to the area, and my second attempt at doing some night shots. The good news is, if all goes as planned, we'll have two nights to work with!!

Several years ago, I used a Nikon 14-24 with my D750. Used a tripod and we were on solid ground near the hotel complex. All of my shots came out soft, like this:
Monument Valley_401.jpg
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Here's my EXIF data:
Screen Shot 2021-03-19 at 1.10.55 PM.png
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Clearly, I didn't do well!!

This time around, I'll be using my 17-40mm f4 Canon lens, in place of the 14-24, with my 6D Mk II. Would love to have any suggestions on how to correct what was wrong!!

(One thing I've always thought maybe I did wrong was keeping the autofocus ON. I thought it was set on infinity, but maybe that's what went wrong?)

Thanks in advance!!

Ken
 

Butlerkid

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Your exposure looks OK......to get sharp stars a shutter speed of 15 seconds would be better. I assume you were using a solid tripod and remote? It just looks like you didn't focus on the foreground. At f2.8 or f3.2, the hyperfocal distance would still include infinity.....
 
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Ken St John
Your exposure looks OK......to get sharp stars a shutter speed of 15 seconds would be better. I assume you were using a solid tripod and remote? It just looks like you didn't focus on the foreground. At f2.8 or f3.2, the hyperfocal distance would still include infinity.....

Thanks, Karen. As I recall. I had the AF still on and it may have been searching for something more in the distance.

Thanks!!

Ken
 
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Definitely turn off AF. Magnified live view and focus on a bright star until it is as small and bright as you can make it. Then tape your focus ring in place an recompose. As Karen mentions, 20 seconds is slightly long. You can bump your ISO on the 6D to 3200 and shoot for 15 seconds. I think you’ll prefer that exposure, even with the noise, which I’m sure you know how to mitigate in post.
 

Butlerkid

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Only use AF if you can focus on the foreground before it gets really dark. Understand hyperfocal distance. With 14mm, you can focus at about 8 feet and everything from about 6' to infinity should be in focus.

Or take one or more images for the foreground....focusing on the foreground with say f8.....then take image for the sky with f2.8 and 15 seconds and manually focusing on the stars. Then blend them later in s/w like PS.
 
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I'm not sure if this is truth or legend, so take this with a grain of salt:

I was under the impression that changes in temperature affect focus (something about the density of air, yada yada yada...). Since the temperature drops as darkness falls, prefocusing on the horizon will get you close, but is not as accurate as real time focusing. Based on this, I try to focus with live view magnification rather than rely on a focus lock achieved at an earlier time when the temperature differed.
 
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Andy you are correct, focus will change with temperature - but I am not sure at this wide you will see it. The last few nights I have been shooting at 200mm and not had to adjust focus. However, when shooting at higher focal lengths I do see a change. I have also never been really successful with live view - I know others have. Rather, I prefer to take a photo, then zoom in on it and adjust. And yes only MF.
 
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As said in these posts.
No AF for astrophotography, always manual focus, liveview or canon equivalent helps as you can zoom in, adjust and then gaffa tape your lens once you have manually focused it.
Try short exposure closer to 12-15 seconds.
Ideally you want a tracking mount and take hundreds of pix to stack them.
That is the best way to get pin sharp photos.
Above 15 sec you will get into star trail territory.
Have fun !
 
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Thunder Bay, Ontario
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Kay
In a few weeks (late May), we're planning to spend two nights at the View Hotel in Monument Valley (assuming the Navajo nation will open things back up by then). This will be our third visit to the area, and my second attempt at doing some night shots. The good news is, if all goes as planned, we'll have two nights to work with!!

Several years ago, I used a Nikon 14-24 with my D750. Used a tripod and we were on solid ground near the hotel complex. All of my shots came out soft, like this: View attachment 1680767
Here's my EXIF data:
View attachment 1680768
Clearly, I didn't do well!!

This time around, I'll be using my 17-40mm f4 Canon lens, in place of the 14-24, with my 6D Mk II. Would love to have any suggestions on how to correct what was wrong!!

(One thing I've always thought maybe I did wrong was keeping the autofocus ON. I thought it was set on infinity, but maybe that's what went wrong?)

Thanks in advance!!

Ken

I see that your focus is off.
Usually best to use Live view and zoom into a brightest star around them focus. (when the star is the smallest)

If you still have your D750, I'd say use that instead of 6D mark ii. D750 has way more potential and sensor performance compare to the 6D mark ii when it comes to night sky photography.
 
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