What’s it like starting astrophotography as a hobby?

Astrophotography is a hobby that allows one to immediately connect with the cosmos. It can be daunting, though. The Internet is full of amazing images created by professionals who have prodigious skills and equipment. Acquiring such skills and equipment takes time and money. How, then, does one go about starting in this interesting hobby? To learn more, we spoke to Andrew Hinde, a software developer in Canada. He started getting into the hobby in 2020, when quarantine gave him the time to figure out how to turn his camera to the skies.

How did you become interested in photography?

I’ve been interested in photography since I was a kid. My dad was into photography, so my interest came from him. The astrophotography bug hit this year during a province-wide quarantine. I saw some amazing photos on Reddit. That’s where I saw what could be achieved with minimal equipment and decided to give it a go myself.

As you learn more about astrophotography, what have been some valuable lessons?

I’ve learned to not be discouraged or overwhelmed by others’ images. I’ve also learned to spend time building post-processing skills. When I first started, I was seeing images taken with several thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. It looked amazing, which is what got me into the hobby. I had to pull my expectations back, though, knowing I’d be working with an entry level DSLR and no tracking (to start with). You can still get great results with minimal equipment. Regarding post-processing, it is a huge part of astrophotography, so taking the time to build your skills is important. Experimenting with different techniques can greatly improve your images.

What tips do you have for other newcomers to astrophotography?

Patience and preparation are key. You need the patience to image for potentially hours at a time, and you need to get your gear prepared for astrophotography’s unique requirements. Ensuring the camera settings are fine-tuned, spending time focusing just right, getting polar alignment spot on – these all require patience. Also, try not to get discouraged early on – just like any hobby, improvement comes with time and practice. There are plenty of resources to help you out, too – forums, videos, guides, etc. Keep at it, and you’ll end up with some great images.