This year the ‘Tears of San Lorenzo’ or Perseids will reach their maximum intensity on the night of August 12-13. So much so that, according to experts, on that night up to 100 meteors per hour could be registered. In addition, this year this phenomenon can be seen quite well, since clear skies and the waning quarter phase of the moon are expected, which will favor the vision of these celestial bodies. For all this, this year we are facing a perfect occasion to photograph the Perseids.
However, not everyone has a reflex or mirrorless camera to take a photo of this phenomenon. So we thought it would be interesting to tell you How can you take photos of the Perseid Meteor Shower with your phone’s camera. The better the mobile, the better results we will obtain, obviously. But we do need that the device has some specific characteristics and take into account some factors that can affect the taking of the photograph. Let’s see them.
You will need a dark place and a tripod
When choosing a place to see the Perseid rain, we must take light pollution into account. We will have to search a place that is far from the big cities and in which it is as dark as possible. If you do not know of any area that meets the requirements, you can use the Darksitefinder website to find the darkest area closest to your location. We will thus avoid the orange glow that all the cities in the photos give off.
The second essential to get good photographs of the Perseids is the tripod. To photograph the Meteor Shower we are going to have to take long exposure photos, so it is not feasible to do them by hand. It is best to use some type of tripod specially designed for the mobile or a tripod for cameras by adding a special support for the mobile.
When taking the photographs we must point towards the constellation of Perseus. If you don’t know where it is, you can use applications like Stellarium or Sky Map to locate it. To guide you a little it is worth knowing that it is to the right of the pole star, which is the brightest star on the tail of Ursa Minor.
How to photograph the Perseids with your mobile
To get a good photograph of the Perseids we will need to use the mobile camera manual controls. It is important that we can change parameters such as the exposure time, ISO sensitivity and focus.
If you have a mobile that includes the Professional Mode or Manual Mode you will not have any problems. But if the Camera application of your mobile does not include it, you will have to download an application that allows you to touch these parameters.
Once with the correct application, let’s see how we have to configure the parameters to try to capture the best photo of the Perseids. The ideal would be to use an angle as open as possible, to capture the greatest amount of sky, but since we are going to use a mobile the best thing is that we take the photo with the main sensor, since it is always the brightest.
As for the parameters, let’s start with the Exhibithion time. There are several rules that we can apply to calculate it. We can even buy an application like PhotoPills to calculate the time needed. However, we can do a little calculation to guide us. This consists of divide 600 by the focal length of the camera of our mobile. How do we know the focal length? We will have to resort to the specifications of the device.
Have you not been able to find out this information? No problem. Set the exposure time between 20 and 30 seconds if your mobile allows it. With this exposure time the results will almost always be good.
We continue with the ISO sensitivity. In night photography it is common to make the mistake of raising the ISO too much, which often causes noise to appear. So the most recommended thing is that to take photos of the Perseids we configure the camera with a low ISO, between 100 and 800 ISO. Keep in mind that mobile cameras do not manage ISO as well as a mirrorless or SLR camera, so lower ISO counts better.
Finally we have to configure the Focus. If we let the camera focus automatically we may find ourselves with a totally out of focus photo, since the automatic focus will go crazy to try to focus at night. To solve it we must put focus on manual and focus on a distant object, like a tree or a mountain. Another option is to aim at the brightest and closest star and move the focus until the light from the star looks as small as possible.
The truth is that the subject of focus is so delicate that, as they say, “each teacher has his booklet.” Depending on the photographer you ask, they will tell you one thing or another, so it is best to get to the site in time and do some tests.
And finally, you’re going to need a lot of patience. Night photography is tricky, so we won’t always get the perfect shot the first time. Following these instructions, go changing the subject of focus and slightly varying some parameters to get the photo you are looking for. If you are patient you can get a really spectacular photo. And if you do not get that photo you were looking for, at least you can see the meteor shower live and retain it in your retina forever. It is very worth it.
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