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First experience: photographing Andromeda without a tracker

Last month I got the chance to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy from a low light polluted location. With the pandemic going around, I didn’t get out of the house too much. So I packed what I believed to be the best gear to capture a deep sky object. It didn’t go as planned.

I wanted to use my cheap Tamron Auto 300mm for this shot. Unfortunately, this lens doesn’t stay focused once it points up. So I ended up with about 400 blurry photos. Luckily I could use a Sigma 135mm f/1.8 the same night.

How I took the photo

  • 200 light exposures: 1 second, f/1.8, ISO 6400;
  • Reframing every 50 exposures;
  • 30 dark exposures;
  • The app I used as an intervalometer is called Camrote;
  • Stacked with Sequator;
  • Edited in Adobe Photoshop.
One of the 200 light exposures
Final image

Things I could have done better

The first thing that comes to mind is taking more light frames. I’ll be able to do that very soon, although I won’t be using the Sigma 135mm. I have three lenses I want to capture the Andromeda Galaxy with.

The first one is the Tamron Auto 300mm. It’s the longest, the darkest, and with a loose focusing ring, it’s the most challenging. The next lens in line is the Cosinon 135mm f/2.8. The last one is the Sony E 105mm f/4 G OSS.

The second thing I could do is spending more time editing the stacked photo. So far I’ve only applied the method described in this video.

Last but not least: using a star tracker. No matter how many photos I take, nothing beats longer exposures. Until then, I’ll test more lenses.

Wish me luck!

The view from the night I shot the Andromeda Galaxy

By Dan Pandrea

Man With A Camera. Romanian, copywriter, content editor, photography enthusiast, and an electronic music fan.

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