Lumberton photographer’s tips for shooting the stars
Using an SLR camera, a tripod and a bit of celestial knowledge, George Myers captures light from the other side of the clouds.
Colorful nebulae, constellations and other heavenly bodies are all subjects of Myers’ lenses.
Myers, 46, shoots the stars largely near the less populated areas of Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, but he has traveled to the southern edges of Texas looking for spots where man-made light is scarce.
“Too much light pollution can ruin your chance for a good photo,” said Myers, gesturing toward the hazy lime-green glow of
Ivanhoe (population 887) during a shoot late last month at Kara Farms near Woodville.
During that shoot, Myers photographed the stars from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. using a compass, a planisphere (a low-tech space map), space tracking apps on his cell phone and ranch scenery, all of which helped him compose images of the galaxy.
In between camera adjustments and taking pictures, the Lumberton man talked about his good and bad experiences over the years and how he’s learned to improve his craft.
While repeated shoots have trained him to keep an eye on things like lens focus, shutter speed, white balance, wind variations and location, one of Myers’ most important lessons was learning to pay attention to physicals hazards that can be hidden in the dim light of a new moon.
He learned that the hard way after slipping on granite and landing in the frigid waters of California’s King Canyon in 2015.
For several days after a shoot, Myers said he spends time selecting the best photos and editing them on his computer.
After he’s happy with his work, he posts the images online or prints them for contests and framing.
Myres said he hopes to one day sell his work. For now, the 18-year veteran electrician seems content to bring home a little piece of the Milky Way to hang on his walls.
At a glance
George Myers’ 5 tips for photographing the stars:
n Buy a good tripod and a head lamp with a red light. The tripod will keep the camera steady for long exposures and the red light’s low-frequency will keep your eye comfortable with the dark.
n Buy an intervalometer to help maintain a frequency of shots during meteor showers.
n Buy a good wide-angle lens (17 mm or wider) with an F-stop of 2.8 or faster.
n Research and scout areas. Use Google maps and darksitefinder.com to find interesting areas for good compensation and dark areas to avoid light pollution.
n Preset the lens’ focus, then test the photos on a computer to make sure they are tack sharp. When you find a good setting, lock and tape down the auto focus switch to lock in the lens.