I like the way this photo turned out eventually, but it did not start this way. The original, straight, from the camera, is very red throughout the photo. Why would this have happened? What am I doing wrong, or what settings could be changed to make it more like it should without using photoshop to change the color? I'm not sure how to post the original photo here. If someone could explain that, I could do it, or I could email the original. Thanks in advance.

Starry Night by Denise Chelpka
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Aperture: f/3.5
  • Exposure: 19 1/2 sec.
  • Focal Length: 18 mm
  • ISO Speed: 1600
  • Taken: 11:12 PM on Jul 29

Starry Night by Denise Chelpka

After gleaning metadata from wonderful CMA photos and reading articles on photographing stars, this was the best example of my first attempt at star photography. Constructive criticism is welcomed and requested. I want to know how to improve.

If you have a polarizing or a UV filter on the lens take them off. You realize you will be shooting in "manual" so focus on infinity in daylight, turn off autofocus and use a small amount of tape on the focus ring to keep it from shifting. In menu set for "daylight", ISO is best at 800. Your shutter can stay open up to 40 seconds at 18 MM without noticeable star trailing. Most important, find a dark sky site. If you do not have an image processing program Photoshop Elements 11 is good. Gimp is a free program that can do good processing too. Your orange wash is caused by light pollution and is the reason to seek out a dark sky location. reply back for more info, I've been at this sky imaging stuff for over 30 years and do know a few tricks. Doug O.


Thank you for your response. I did take off the filter, shot in manual, focused on infinity, autofocus was off. Did not have the camera set for daylight. I'll do that next time. I'll also try the lower ISO. I realize the dark sky was not ideal (we were visiting our kids in Flagstaff), but am glad to know that the orange wash was because of the light pollution and not my settings. I do have PSE 10 and used that to color shift the sky. I always appreciate any information to help me improve. Now I just need to find a dark sky location. Living in Phoenix, it's tough.

Denise: I am currently the V.P. of the Astronomers of Verde Valley ( and we have a dark sky site near Sedona. We also have folks come up from the valley to enjoy our great dark sky. You can view our web site and browse the schedule of events. I would be more than happy to share the combined knowledge of all the imaging members in our club. There is work on my web site that I can't post on C.M.A. because of location (outside Az.) and content (not in guidelines of CMA) such as my world travels. One method I use is to mount the camera on top and track on the sky as it moves. Using several long exposures stacked and edited adds more dimension, details and color to the final product. This is an open invitation to join us when ever you have time and in the area. My web site is a google search for flickr: doug_ostroski's photostream. October is about one of the best times to do astrophotography, temps are down and the clean air is very stable. plus it gets dark early. A quick note , one out of three members are women who actively pursue astronomy. Doug Ostroski

Doug - Thank you, so much for the info. I will check out the website.

Well, Denise, you been out under the star canopy yet ?. Here is the guide system and lens I use for my night shots. Thought you'd be interested. I just posted a mug shot of the lens. Doug O.

Hi, Doug. Haven't had a chance yet. I don't seem to be able to see your guide system or lens.