EP 32: Beginner’s Guide to Astrophotography: 5 Steps to Get Started

Howdy howdy, and happy summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. That means nights outside that aren’t freezing, which means: star shooting, or astrophotography time!

As you listen today, I’m up in northern MN with some of my chosen family–dear sister friends and partners–for an annual summer gathering. Swimming, bonfires, long walks, and basic cabin bliss. If you listened to the last episode on batching, then you’ll know that I’ve batch scheduled THIS show so I can relax a little and enjoy the final days of MN summer.

astrophotography photo of the night sky and milky way
Photo: Natalie Jennings

Another killer reason to head out of the city–besides the peace and quiet–is the starry night sky. Man, is it fun to see a sky with very little light pollution. And this very northern sky is where I tried my hand at astrophotography.

Sometimes I turn away from learning something at first because it’s intimidating. In fact, I might not even realize that it’s intimidating at the time I’m avoiding it, but later, I realize that’s absolutely what happened. And that’s what happened to me when I came across astrophotography.

In fact, it took me over 5 years to even try astrophotography. First because of gear limitations, then because it just seemed like a lot to figure out. 

I’m not lazy. Definitely not. But I do get intimidated when confronted with a new technique that feels like it contains a lot of moving parts. It sounds silly to even type this, because I know that repetition is the key to truly learning, then mastering, a new skill. I mean, how many times did you say your A-B-C’s before you got them down? 

Anyway, today I’d like to share with you 5 basic steps to get started shooting the stars! If you’d like a copy of everything I chat about today, head to for a PDF download of this, and every other PDF I’ve offered so far. It’s all free and all there to help. for this guide and the others, too, including double exposure photography.

Okay, astrophotgoraphy.

A Tripod

Seems obvious, but it’s true. These long, long exposures require a super-stable mount.

Good Weather

Also seems obvious, but it’s definitely something to think about if you’re taking a long hike to a remote locale to snap your first astro shot. However, beware of a full moon’s light. That’s some strong sh*t.

Cover image for ep 32 photo business help podcast

Ambient Light

In the photo above you can see ambient light from the houses on the other side of the lake. Those lights were barely visible to the naked eye. Extend your shutter speed and those tiny lights in the distance become magical.

Interesting Framing

I’m all for straight up shots of the stars. But if you want a shot with a little more intrigue, try framing your sky with some trees or buildings to make things a little more dramatic and dynamic.

Proper Settings

Every situation is going to be a little bit different, so play around depending on the ambient light that’s available.  Here are the settings I used for the cover of this pdf:

This image was shot with

Canon 5D mkiv

ISO 4000


10 sec at f/ 2.5



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