August 4, 2016 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Any advice for taking good photographs of the night sky with an iPhone 6? I want to photos of the Perseids meteor shower, but I'd rather not bring along my "real" camera, tripod, etc. What's the most I can do, with the least amount of additional gear? Apps are good; things that increase weight are bad.
posted by The corpse in the library to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For my low light/long exposure needs, I use slow shutter cam.

Not free, and the only long exposure app I can remember using, but it's got a few different modes, including light trail.

Whatever app you use, I recommend devoting a couple hours to playing with it before the event to figure out what modes/settings are the best for high-impact/low-noise results.
posted by itesser at 9:19 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll happily pay for a good app -- in fact, I'd prefer it over seeing ads.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:44 AM on August 4, 2016

Best answer: If you don't already have one, this phone-specific Gorillapod will help immensely and it weighs about as much as a Clif bar.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:04 PM on August 4, 2016

Best answer: I've taken passable* night sky photos with ProCam. It does up to 30 second exposures. Your biggest problem is that it's still an iPhone 6 and long exposures will be noisy no matter what you do. Your skill with Photoshop can offset some of this. (*Passable means stars are identifiable out of the noise after a lot of processing, but nothing like what comes straight out of a DSLR.)

For stabilization, a bean or sand bag will work. (Either with actual beans, or, for low weight, expanded foam beads.) If you're going where there is sand, cary and empty bag and fill it locally.

2nding taking a few hours to learn whatever you choose. You won't be able to use the viewfinder or see anything worthwhile on the screen, so you'll have to shoot blind. Practice shooting blind to make sure you can get what you want in frame without looking.

I would caution you against getting too excited by the images you'll get. The most ambitious forecasts for the Perseids put them at 100 per hour (Which would get you 1-2 per sixty second exposure) though many expect it to be closer to fifteen/hour.

If you have experience with photo stacking, you'll get better results with lots of short exposures or collapsing a time-lapse.

Good luck. Regardless of how the meteors perform, watching the stars is a wonderful way to spend a night.
posted by Ookseer at 6:37 PM on August 4, 2016

Response by poster: Follow-up: I was so tired from all the hiking that I fell asleep in my tent before the sun was fully set, never mind waiting until the stars came out. The apps and the tripod were used during the day, though, and were fun.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:57 PM on August 11, 2016

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