Shooting for Venus: A Perspective on Planetary Photography

 

VenustCard

Venus is the goddess of beauty, so it’s only natural that you want photograph her. Oh. Wait. We’re talking about the planet. Nevermind.

Venus (the planet) is a -4.6 magnitude object, and it’s about 18x brighter than Sirius, which is the brightest star in the night sky! In other words…Venus is pretty damn bright! and that also means it’s not difficult to photograph Venus.

Any manual control camera will do the job. Crop or full sensor DSLR will be the most versatile option. Prime focus astrophotography is also a viable option.

Venusian Ornament

 

** Rough Exposure Guide **

 

  1. Lens focal length dictates exposure length (for unguided images)

  2. 50mm Lens = About 10sec.

  3. 24mm Lens = About 30sec.

     

    Crescent Venus-1

    Venus Crescent Phase (Orion Maksutov Prime Focus)

venus5-1

Venus taken with Orion Maksutov – Exposure – 0.5sec – ISO 800 – Aperture 12.5

 

Crop or full sensor DSLR cameras (1.5x / 1.6x) have crop factors which modify the focal length of the specific lens attached to the camera body.

A 50mm prime lens attached to a Canon Rebel XSi equals 80mm. Keep this in mind when you’re calibrating photographic exposures.

5o x 1.6 Crop Factor = 80

venuswater1-1

Venus in the Water – Exposure 20sec – ISO – 100 – Aperture – F22

Don’t expose images longer than they need to be—an extra 2 seconds can have negative consequences on your photograph.

venuswater1-2

Cropped image of Venus – Take note of slight trailing

The image above was cropped from the wide-angle photograph (Canon 24mm prime lens /20 seconds).

Do you own a standard 18-55mm kit lens ? The 18-55 focal length is a versatile focal length, especially if the images are unguided.

Venus-3

Venus in the Blue – Exposure 1.6sec – ISO 200 – Aperture – F2.8

One thing you need to keep in mind—when dusk begins—it’s still fairly bright out. Sure. The sky may look dark. But collecting all those photons add up! If you’re not careful, then it’s very easy to over-expose the photograph.

The darker the sky, the brighter Venus will appear, however, this also means Venus will be lower on the horizon due to Earth’s rotation. Environmental objects may get in the way.

VenusColow2

Venus and Boat House – Exposure – 15sec – ISO – 800 – Aperture F2.8

Sometimes, waiting for the stars to align, so to speak, is the only opportunity you’ll have to image a particular scene. As a result, the sky could be quite bright.

That’s when you’ll need to find a desired balance between:

 

  1. Aperture

  2. ISO

  3. Exposure

 

I included captions underneath the images in this post (aperture, ISO, and exposure length). Feel free to study the information, that way you have an idea as to what settings to use in the future.

 

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