Interview 4: DSLR astrophotography with Hafsteinn Kröyer Eiðsson
For this interview we will have an inside look into a different type of photography; Aurora Borealis photography! Hafsteinn Kröyer might be fairly new to astrophotography, he has been entertaining a lot of people already with his amazing pictures of the Aurora Borealis from Iceland. He knows how to capture the mesmerising effect of these dancing lights in the sky and turn them in to amazing pictures. Make sure to check out his aurora photo’s on Facebook after reading this interview!
Time to get to know Hafsteinn a little bit better!
BREATHE. Practice yoga. Your patience will be under attack by the
What got you interested into astronomy in general and astrophotography in particular? How long ago was this?
Actually I have been interested in astronomy since I was a kid. I just never did anything about it until March 1st 2014, when I got my first scope. Then my interest in astrophotography started. I had been seeing pictures from amateur astrophotographers for long time on Facebook, and I had planned for few years to get a scope.
What do you like/love the most about this hobby?
I love the endless ways of creativity that is involved in this hobby. I just do things my way. And seeing things evolve is a great reward.
What was your first camera and other gear (scope/lenses) you used for astrophotography?
My first scope I bought used from a friend of mine. It was a 6“ Skywatcher Dobsonian. At that
time I only used an iphone 4 and a Canon ixus 900 for my photo gear. I had also
the usual accessories for my scope, like 2x barlow, few eyepieces and such.
What gear and camera are you using right now?
Now I use a Canon EOS Rebel X4i (650D) unmodified for astrophotography, because I use it in general as well. My lenses are Tamron 150-600mm, Tamron 18-200mm, Samyang 10mm and a Kenko 2x extender. I also have a Baader filter and 16 stop Nd filter for solar photographing. For tracking I use Skywatcher Star Adventurer star tracker and a ball mount. And an old tripod I need to refresh.
Do you have a specific reason to use a DSLR for astrophotography?
Well, Iphone and P&S cam did not do the trick for me. DSLR are portable, good image quality and suitable for most things, astro or Earthbound. The settings for dslr are easy and quick to use. Pretty foolproof really. I have only used Canon dslr’s so I can’t say about the settings on other brands.
What is your favorite image you made?
Hard to chose any particular as favorite. So here is one though I like very much:
What is your favourite subject to photograph?
I mostly use wide field because Aurora photographing is what I specialize in. But I am still learning the track/stack part. The weather here in Iceland makes the tracking photography hard because the weather is never steady and strong winds make it hard at times for me to get the perfect pictures.
What skies are you used to for your astrophotography?
Since I mostly do aurora and wide angle pictures. I tend to move around a bit, for different foregrounds and landscapes for the auroras. But my tracking mostly goes on in my backyard. It‘s a bit light polluted, but not so much if the sky is really clear. A little moist in the air really kills the pics. Every time I have made attempts to go somewhere else, the clouds roll in. Yeah, That‘s Iceland. Pretty unpredictable. And the 24 hour bright skies at summer also do not make life easier for astrophotography.
Which software do you use for processing?
I use PS Lightroom 5 mostly for editing. It‘s easy to use and foolproof (that‘s my opinion). For stacking I use the widely common Deep Space Stacker (DSS). Sometimes I use some internet editing, But not so much for it to qualify I guess. I have tried Registax and other software’s, but I think DSS will be my choice a bit longer.
What is unique about your photos, what distinguishes your work from others?
I don‘t know if anything is really unique about my pics. I just try to be creative in my aurora pictures. I may be a bit different in the case that I like having people, cars, houses etc. as foreground in my pics. Some objects overall. I don‘t see that many people do that. Usually the auroras only have landscapes in the pics. At tracking, I try editing maybe a bit different, I don‘t know really. I may not have enough experience to say anything about tracking. Still learning the basics (kind of).
What are the common pitfalls you see other people doing?
Bad focus. But nobody is perfect. Everyone makes some mistakes.
Keeping the same beginner equipment for too long is also something that is not good I think. For me it‘s a rule, that if I master the equipment I get some new, better and more powerful ones. It‘s a learning process.
Do you have tips and/or suggestions for our readers?
Practice, practice and practice some more, and don´t forget patience. Google has the answers to most questions so please ask her/him(Google). Experience is what makes your ability to be authentic. Everything I have learned was by, do it yourself school of life. And most of all BREATHE. Practice yoga. Your patience will be under attack by the astrophotography. AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. USE A DSLR……!
Do you have any specific tips for photographing the aurora?
Use a tripod and get to know your camera well. Learn settings well. Everyone has his own idea about how the picture should look.