Photographing Comet NEOWISE

I took a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to try a new photography challenge: a comet! I've read a bit about astrophotography, so I had some ideas about what settings to use and what to expect, but I came back down the mountain with some lessons learned. I also came down with some pictures of a real comet! It was very fun and exciting; I always love a chance to be humbled by the enormity of the cosmos.

Some things I'm glad I brought:

  • a jacket (it's chilly up there at night, even in July)
  • binoculars to help locate the comet as it first became visible
  • water
  • extra camera battery

Some things I wish I'd brought:

  • a towel or hanky to wipe off condensation while packing up
  • a headlamp for fiddling with settings, plus packing up and getting back to my car in the dark
  • a folding chair
  • a snack
  • someone to share the experience with

Some gear that would've helped if I'd had it:

  • a remote shutter release
  • a better tripod maybe?

I'm happy with the images I got, given it was a new setting and subject. Surely they could have been better, or at least I could have gotten the good ones more efficiently and had less deletion to do. I learned quickly that my setup had some unavoidable and ruinous shakiness after hitting the shutter, but I figured out that I could use the self-timer to let the camera settle before taking the picture. A remote exposure trigger would be a more convenient way to eliminate that issue and get pictures faster - not that I regret spending any minute of my evening the way I did. I think for my next attempt at space photography I'll have to do some research on stacking exposures and see if I can get better results by compositing.