Ball park settings for blending astro pictures

As with everything in [astro]photography, there may not be a single “ballpark” answer.

Here’s an example: Milky Way

This is a blend of two images. The first image was of the pueblo while the crescent Moon (20% illuminated) was still above the horizon providing enough light to illuminate the structure.

Settings: 300 seconds, f/4, ISO 800.

The Milky Way was taken after the Moon had set and everything was very dark. The camera was mounted on a star tracker to follow the stars instead of creating star trails.

Settings: 300 seconds, f/4, ISO 800.

Note that the settings are the same for the two parts of the image. The Milky Way images show the pueblo but it just a dark silhouette unlike the earlier image taken with Moon light.

Another example: Star Trails

This is a stack creating star trails and both stars and foreground are from the same image, i.e., there is no blending. There was a Moon (70% illuminated) brightening the canyon.

Settings: 30 seconds, f/4, ISO 400.

Whenever possible, I try to shoot astro-landscape scenes when there is some moonlight so that the foreground is illuminated. If there is no Moon and/or no twilight, the foreground may be too dark to capture.

There are no set rules for how to do this — and other photographers will have different workflows and settings.


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