Beginner’s Astrophotography Part 1

Astro photography. If you’ve not tried it I think you should. It’s a very different experience and can be quite rewarding. It’s also very challenging for beginners to get everything aligned just right and that’s what we address in this episode.

This is Latitude Photography Podcast, Episode 79 for May 10, 2020, Happy Mother’s Day!!

Links Mentioned in today’s show:

Find Tom’s work here:

Check out Kirk’s work here:

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Introduction and Announcements

I am your host, Brent Bergherm. Welcome to Latitude Photography podcast, the place where we pursue travel and outdoor photography with a passion. Whether we’re talking about dream destinations, something in our backyard, post-processing or just trying to make sense of it all, we’re all on a journey to create more images and to do so with purpose. Thank you so much for being here.

Today’s episode is all about Astrophotography and I’ve got two quick announcements or things to talk about before we get to the conversation with Tom Wagner and Kirk Keyes. 

First off, theCOVID has caused me to make more changes to my summer shoot-n-print workshop happening in the Palouse region this year. It’s now happening over labor day weekend. Please visit the website, the show notes has all the links and this one is the fourth link down, and you can see about all the changes there. We’ll get to maybe shoot some harvest activities as well as all the printing and sunrise shooting we’ll do. I’ve moved the venue and am limiting it to 5 participants. I hope you’ll consider joining us for this exciting time shooting in one of the most awesome agricultural regions this nation has to offer, and of course, the main purpose which is learning all the post-processing and print techniques required to get awesome gallery-quality prints from your photos.

Also, one last call for the Latitude Photography School survey. At the time of this recording I have 56 responses. That’s just amazing! Thank you, but I’d love even more. Please consider sharing your thoughts. I just want to be sure I’m delivering what you want in a service like this. Even if you think this isn’t something for you right now, maybe it is down the road. What types of things would you be interested in with a service like this?

And finally, thank you to those who are leaving comments and reviews in Apple Podcasts. Like ClairaMarie, who recently said, “A great podcast for learning new techniques and staying inspired. The topics are of interest to landscape and outdoor photographers. Brent does a great job in keeping the topics fresh. I like the mix of commentary, reviews and interviews, a perfect balance.” 

Wow, thank you so much. It’s kind words like these that certainly gives me a bit of a dopamine hit. I’m so honored. Thank you! I’ll read more reviews in future episodes. In the meantime, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your kind words. I’d love to see more because really the purpose is to adequately tell others what the show is about, from your perspective. And if you review in another app or area please let me know so I can be sure to include that here on the show as well.

Main Topic: Astro Photography

One of the goals I had when I did my casting call for other photographers to join me on the show was to level up on my astrophotography game. I’m thrilled to say that four of the eight new Latitude Regulars not only have experience in astrophotography but they excel at it. Today we’re talking with Tom Wagner and Kirk Keyes, Fellas, Welcome to the show!

To start things off, Kirk, this is your first time on the show. Let’s have you introduce yourself. I’m sure many listeners already know who you are and surely there’s some that don’t. 

Kirk: Thanks, Brent. I’m Kirk Keyes, and I live in Portland, OR. I’ve been photographing for about 45 years, since I was 12 years old. Some of my first photos were of star trails and trying to shoot the Moon through a telescope I bought with money from my newspaper route. Through the 80s to mid-2000s, I shot mostly large format landscapes with a 4×5 camera. For the last 5 years, I’ve been shooting astro landscapes. I co-founded and manage, which despite the name, is dedicated to all forms of night photography. 

Great, now let’s get this thing started, Astro Photography. I’d like both of you to give me your two-sentence definition or description of what astrophotography is to you and why you love it so much.

Tom: I would describe astrophotography as taking pictures of the night sky, which could be the stars, star trails, or the Milky Way. I love astrophotography because it’s so cool to use our cameras to bring the night sky to life that we can’t see with our eyes.

Kirk: Man, I think Tom pretty much covered it! I’ll just add in a few keywords for people to look into like “astro landscape,” “Low-Level Landscape Lighting,” “nightscape,” “deepscape,” and “deep sky photography.”

Brent: We have a basic outline that will guide our discussion. So let’s dive in.

  1. Gear
    1. Camera – manual settings, some sensors have less noise
      1. At home – 
        1. Turn off Long Exposure Noise Reduction
        2. Turn off Electronic Viewfinder Switching, if mirrorless. 
        3. Know how to put your camera into Live View
      1. 8mm to 35mm, f/1.2 to f/2.8 recommended, f/3.5 can be OK
    2. Wide angle, fast lens
    3. Camera Batteries – bring extras!
    4. Spare Memory card – don’t leave home without them. 
  1. Sturdy tripod
    1. Tripod Head
  2. Trigger release – internal/external, intervalometer – internal/external
  3. Headlamp – or not.
  4. Star Tracker 
  5. Low-Level Landscape lighting
    1. Warm Clothes – dress in layers
    2. Water and snacks – don’t forget your Milky Way bar!
    3. Bug Repellent
    4. Camp Chair
  6. Niceties
  7.  Bring a friend. And let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Let’s briefly cover a few apps that we use

  1. Photopills
  2. Sun Surveyor
  3. PlanIt app
  4. Dark Sky Finder
  5. MyRadar Pro
  6. ClearOutside
  7. Windy App
  8. Meteoblue app


  1. Find us on the web at
  2. Find me on facebook at
  3. Find the podcast facebook group at
  4. Find me on instagram @brentbergherm
  5. Find me on YouTube at
  6. Find me online at
  7. And finally, my online learning platform for photographers is found at
  8. Find Kirk Keyes here: 

Find Tom Wagner here: & @tomwagnerphotography (Instagram)