How to photograph a comet with a smartphone.
If you are reading this within a few days of posting, there is still time to get an image of the Neowise comet using nothing more than a camera phone.
Ideally you should be able to access the "Pro" features in your camera set-up.
I used a Samsung Galaxy A8 with its own camera features, but sometimes you may need to download a non-bundled camera app. My new A40 doesn't have all the features.
You will also need a tripod and smartphone holder or some means of holding the phone rock steady at the right angle (boss head and clamp will work).
Activate the voice command on your phone (this is in the camera settings) and allows you to take videos and stills by voice control. For a still you simply say "smile" or other variant (it should be in the apps documentation).
This is done so that there is no bounce from touching the phone to take a picture.
Please be familiar with your camera settings by trialling during the day.
Point to the approximate direction of the comet and put the phone to camera mode.
If possible set the manual focus (MF) to as far as the settings allow.
Set the light sensitivity (ISO) to a suitable value in conjunction with the exposure time. ISO 400 and 8s will allow for a little variability.
Take an image by using the voice command.
Review the image and adjust the exposure and ISO to suit. It is useful to take a few at different settings (called bracketing). Longer exposures and higher ISO values give brighter images.
It is worth noting the the bright screen display may give you a false idea of how bright the image is in reality.
You may also be able to save the image as a "RAW" file as well as a jpg. This allows for more options in image processing using software like photoshop or gimp.
Image has been shrunk using gimp and an arrow added to point to the comet. The "Plough" is clearly seen above it.
Technicians: providing solutions and more.
David Ferguson B.Sc.
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