Guest Blogger and Newly Minted Brand Ambassador FIONA MORRIS: Beginner Astroimaging with the Star Adventurer
My name is Fiona Morris, and I’m a 17-year-old astrophotographer from Nova Scotia, Canada. I started astrophotography back when I was 14 years old. I came across an article online about the night sky, which contained a landscape photograph with stars. I was in awe; I couldn’t believe that stars were able to be photographed. I instantly started searching online for astrophotography tutorials and I found out that you don’t need any expensive, complex gear to capture the stars, but just a tripod and camera. I found my parents' Canon Rebel camera and kit lenses that had been collecting dust and an old tripod, that was all I needed to get hooked. I remember the night I captured my first astrograph; I off-centered an apple tree that was partially lit by a nearby campfire and set a long exposure. When that picture came up on the screen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I captured the light from the stars!
My first astrophoto, taken with a Canon Rebel XS and 18-55mm kit lens
I used this simple tripod and camera method for some time with decent results, but I wanted better results. I had saved some money which allowed me to buy a better camera, the Canon 6D. This camera allowed me to use a higher ISO setting with lower noise levels. I was still missing something within my equipment. Once again, I went back to the web to see how I could improve my photos. I had seen that many photographers who were taking breathtaking photos of the night sky, were also using a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer. This small tracking device would allow me to lower my ISO and take longer exposures. The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer seemed to be perfect for me as it was affordable and lightweight. I ended up receiving one as a Christmas gift in 2018 and I was thrilled to now be able to use a tracking mount with my other equipment.
One of my first photos with a Star Adventurer mount
The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer was very simple to use. I attached my camera to the mount, polar aligned it, and turned the dial to the star tracking mode. The polar aligning did take a few tries for me to get better. What I found really helpful was an application for my phone called Polar Scope Align. I chose the Sky-Watcher polar scope reticle, and it showed exactly where Polaris needed to be positioned within the polar scope. I could see an instant difference in my photographs. With exposures up to 10 times longer than before, the details within the Milky Way were incredible. After stacking the exposures, it was even better; there was almost no noise in the photo and the contrast within the Milky Way was greatly enhanced.
Almost four years later, I still own the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer. Most people would wonder why I still own a budget friendly, beginners mount. I believe the Star Adventurer isn’t only suitable for beginners, but also for more advanced photographers. This mount is easily transportable and suits a small setup well. Today, I have worked my way up to more advanced equipment for imaging deep space objects, but using the Star Adventurer still brings a smile to my face every time I use it. More complex equipment can be a hassle to set up, hard to transport, and can be quite expensive. The Star Adventurer is simple and easy, and still gives you the results you’re looking for. I have had photos of mine featured in magazines and calendars, as well as winning a photo contest, and my Star Adventurer was used to take those pictures.
My photo that won the SaltScapes Photo Contest using the Star Adventurer
If you are contemplating on buying a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, I wouldn’t hesitate. It’s the perfect way to try out astrophotography without getting frustrated or spending lots of money. So many people get misguided in astrophotography and give up easily, and this typically happens when people start in over their heads or have the wrong equipment. The Star Adventurer gave me a great start to astrophotography, and I learned so much about this hobby while using it. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today in astrophotography without the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.
A recent photo of mine taken in the Summer of 2021 using the Star Adventurer
** Check out more of Fiona's work including her deep space images and give her a follow on her Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/fionamorris_photography/