Photographer and Alpha Collective member Autumn Schrock (@autpops) has trekked all over the world capturing beautiful scenes of the night sky. “Astrophotography is so magical,” she says. “Just being out under the stars, looking at your own galaxy is just mind blowing and it makes me so happy. As a night owl I’m just sort of naturally inclined to also like to be out at night. But there’s just something so peaceful. The world calms down – it’s just you and the stars.” To capture such stunning astro imagery, she relies on a select set of gear to get the job done. Watch the video below as Schrock goes through the gear she packs for astrophotography, sharing some of her astro tips along the way. Subscribe to the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel for more.
In this video, adventure photographer & member of the Alpha Imaging Collective, Autumn Schrock goes through her gear for astrophotography and she shares some of her top astro tips along the way.
Camera & Settings
Sony Alpha 1: This is the camera that I use basically for everything, but it’s incredible for low light as well. If you’re new to astrophotography, one piece of advice I would give is to be very familiar with your camera. Play around with it at home first, make sure you know how to adjust all of your settings, your aperture, everything like that, before you go out and try to do everything at night because it’s very difficult in the dark.
A few of the settings that I choose for astrophotography on my Sony Alpha 1 are the self-timer. I usually set a two-second delay because even just the motion of pressing the shutter can give you a blurry image. Another setting that I love to choose on my camera is to turn my monitor brightness down. I usually have it on sunny weather during the day because it’s very bright out, but once night comes around I need to lower it to save my night vision.
Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master: I think this is my favorite astro lens. It’s amazingly sharp, all of the corners and in the center. Wide open at 1.8 it’s amazing. I usually use this for wider vistas or if I’m really close to an object like my foreground and I want to show a lot of it I’ll use the 14mm which is very wide.
Sony 20mm f/1.8 G: This is my second go-to astro lens. It’s incredibly sharp also and I use this one if I’m a little bit further away and I need to get a little bit closer, but not too sharp to my subject. This one again is incredible as well.
Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master & Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II: When I go out for astrophotography I try to get the best bang for my buck so I also always try to get sunset as well. So with that I’ll bring my Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master lens as well as my Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II lens. It’s amazing for when I’m out for sunset. It’s an incredibly versatile focal length and the f/2.8 aperture lets me shoot low light as the stars are starting to come out.
Headlamp: I always bring my trusty headlamp because I have forgotten one of these before, and when you’re out shooting astro it can be really dangerous to not have a light and find your way back. So always pack a headlamp.
First Aid Kit: No matter where I’m going outside I always make sure to have a little first aid kit with me. You never know what’s going to happen so it’s better to be safe and prepared.
Microfiber Cloths: I love these little microfiber cloths that you can just click to your backpack straps. Easy access if you get a smudge on your lens and need to clean it really easily, these come in handy.
Airblower: I live in Utah which is the desert. It’s very dusty. So I often get sensor spots and this little guy helps me clean them out in the field.
Tripod: A tripod is super important for astrophotography. I use the Colorado Tripod Company Centennial 2 Series. It’s carbon fiber but it’s sturdy enough to withstand astro when you’re using long exposures and you have to have your camera stable for a long period of time.
Z-Seat: I love some creature comforts when I’m out in the field so I’ll bring a little Z-Seat with me. It’s really nice for when you’re on some rocky terrain but you’re going to be sitting out there for a while waiting for the stars and Milky Way to line up. So it weighs like 2 ounces and it’s very much worth it.
Gloves & Beanie: I run cold so I always bring gloves with me. Even if it’s in the summer it can get really chilly at night, especially in the mountains, so gloves and a beanie are always in my bag as well.
Sunglasses: For sunset I love these because they pack up super flat. There aren’t any arms on them or anything on them which is really convenient for throwing them in your bag.
Pack Design Capture Clip: This is really convenient if you’re an outdoor photographer. If something exciting happens, an animal comes out or something, you don’t have to worry about getting into your backpack to get your camera out. It’s just right there on your shoulder ready to go.
See more of Autumn Schrock’s work on Instagram @autpops.
See more videos like this on the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel.