Planetary Photography: A Perspective on Venus (Part 2)



Are you in the mood to see a blazing hot goddess? Grab your camera and let’s go outside! The Sun is about to set.

Yes. Photographing Venus can be a pain in the ass. This guide will present some brief tips and thoughts on how to photograph Venus, and you may already own the necessary gear.




  1. The Sky Is Bright


  • If the sky is bright, then Venus will appear like a dim star. If you want Venus to appear brighter within a photograph, wait until night truly arrives (if you can). Photographing Venus too early can potentially ruin the image.


** Secret tip ** Focal length matters! Watch your exposure or the image will trail. A wide-angle lens can get away with a 30 second long exposure (unguided). Mid-range and telephoto lenses, depending on the camera’s sensor, may only get away with 2.5-10 seconds (unguided).




  1.  The Arrival of Night


  • Don’t pack your bags too early! Take a variety of photographs, then pick the images you feel will stand the test of time. So what if it takes you two hours, right? Depending on the season and your specific latitude—Venus could be out many hours past sundown.


** Secret Tip ** Open the lens to its widest aperture.




  1.  Astronomical Conjunction


  • Planetary conjunctions occur quite often—Venus is no exception. Wait until an astronomical conjunction occurs and take advantage of the situation! You know you want to. The image above features Venus and Mars. Other planets are known to join the cosmic party: Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter (Uranus and Neptune can’t be seen without a binocular / telescope).


** Secret Tip ** Magnify image before you focus!


Venus & Satellite



  1. UmmmAliens?

  • The night sky is littered with lights! Not all of them are of cosmic nature. Airplanes and satellites zip across the sky, especially at dusk. Satellites can randomly spice up any astronomical image—you may photograph them by mistake! I didn’t plan on having a satellite blaze through the frame, so be prepared. Some say the night sky is littered with other thingsaliens.



  1. Unsolicited Dramatic Scenes


  • Since the moon’s orbit is inclined toward the ecliptic—it’s not unusual to see the moon paired with a planet. The lunar phase changes the dynamics of the photograph and so does the weather. Clouds usually love to ruin photographic opportunities, but that doesn’t mean all is lost! Wait for temporary atmospheric windows. Who cares how long it takes? Five minutes. Three hours. A month. A year. Eternity. Be ready! You wouldn’t want to spoil the opportunity, right?




  1. Stay In The Clear

  •  Take advantage of clear skies! Break out the telephoto lenses, telescopes, astrographs—whatever. With a little luck, Venus could be accompanied with a crescent moon, and if the weather is really nice, Earthshine could be visible (depending on lunar phase). This image was taken with a 70mm Orion astrograph, which has a focal length of 298mm. A constricted angle of view is well suited for these types of astronomical situations.


** Secret Tip** Use the camera’s self timer or remote!




  1. Use What You Have


  • If you don’t own a telescope or long focal length lens—use what you have! This image was taken with a Canon EF 100mm macro lens. You read that correctly! A macro lens. Remember what I said? Use what you have (kit lenses included).



  1. I Like ‘Em Wide And Big!


  • Don’t be afraid to go wide! Venus is pretty damn bright and will still be visually apparent. Wide angle lenses provide a large canvas—if you want to try something new—go for it. Try to locate an interesting foreground object and blah blah blah, you heard it allllllll before, right? Still. Try to discover an interesting tree, mountain, windmill, lighthouse, log cabin, herds of caribou, a car driving by…I don’t know. Think of something.



  1. Breaking Out The Big Guns


  • Do you own a telescope? Depending on a few factors, you can possibly image Venus with it. Short tube refractors are most likely too weak, but anything else should work. I used an Orion 102mm Maksutov (focal length 1300) and a Canon Rebel XSi (prime focus). Since Venus goes through phases—you might nab a Venusian crescent phase!



  1. Venus Plays Basketball

  • Be on the look out for unusual perspectives. A simple 50mm lens can go a long way: the angle of view can accommodate foreground objects while also maintaining a bit of zoom. A 50mm lens might be more intuitive—wide angle views tend to be more tricky (depending on the individual). A cheap 50mm lens is probably the most versatile and economical piece of glass anyone can own.


There are a number of ways to photograph Venus. You can travel the creative route or remain technical. The choice is yours. I may write about this topic again and delve into specific exposure lengths, ISO, and all that other crap. My original post touched on that subject, but I’ll probably update the information. Stay tuned.


Published by FlyTrapMan

I have no idea what I'm doing.

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