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I have got to a point on this site that I am literally being inundated with questions about how I do some of my photos.  I simply do not have time to answer them all in full individually anymore.  It is seriously restricting the free time that I have to pursue this hobby and take those pictures that have become so popular (both on here and elsewhere).  So for my well being and hopefully to the benefit of those who ask me so many questions, I am doing this write up.

Before I get into some questions though, I want to make a few things clear.  I have spent a lot of time and money on trying to learn as much as I can to better myself with this style of photography.  I love all forms of astrophotography and I really think I have found my niche.  I hope to one day soon start making back a bit of that money I have spent.  So I am not going to just reveal everything I have worked so hard to learn.  What I am going to do is give you some tips and/or give you the same resources that I myself used to help me get started.  They are not all free.  They are not all a "one stop shop."  With some of them they are just the start.  You yourself will need to dig deeper to truly understand everything that is said in them if you wish to do shots like mine.  No one ever said astrophotography was cheap or easy.

:bulletblue:  Not really a question to start with, but it might help some to see a list of the equipment that I can/have/will use to do my astrophotography.
- Canon 5D Mk II
- Canon 60D
- Canon 1000D
- 10-24mm, 14mm, 18-55mm, 18-270mm, 20mm, 50mm, 75-300mm, 90mm  Camera Lenses
- 10" F/4 Newtonian Telescope
- 8" F/6 Dobsonian Telescope
- 80mm ShortTube Guidescope
- Synguider Autoguider
- NEQ6 Pro Goto Telescope Mount
- EQ5 Telescope Mount
- Coronado PST (Personal Solar Telescope)
- Modified webcam for astrophotography
- Variety of telescope eyepeices, adapters and accessories
- Home made barndoor tracker.
- Three camera tripods.

Like I said- a LOT of money

:bulletblue:  How can I take photos of the moon with just a camera?
Play Ball by CapturingTheNight Unfavourable Eclipse by CapturingTheNight
Get yourself a tripod.  Learn to use your camera in fully manual mode.  Use live view if you have it to manually focus on the moon.  Use the longest focal length you have.  Use settings of ISO 400, F/5.6 and 1/125th of a sec (crescent) 1/500th sec (quarter) 1/1000th sec (gibbous) or 1/2000th sec (full moon) as a starting point.  Take a test shot and adjust the shutter speed to get the right exposure.  Delay the shutter or use a remote to eliminate vibration.

:bulletblue:  How do you do your startrail images?
While You Were Sleeping by CapturingTheNight Star Trails At Dusk by CapturingTheNight
The best online tutorial I have seen will tell you everything you need to know and more www.naturephotographers.net/ar…
You can also use this www.startrails.de/html/softwar… program to stack your images.

:bulletblue: How do you photograph the sun without frying your camera and eyes?
Eruptive Prominence by CapturingTheNight Huge Solar Prominence II by CapturingTheNight
I own one of these www.meade.com/product_pages/co… which is a perfectly safe way to view the sun and with the aid of a couple of adapters also allows me to photograph it.

:bulletblue: I want to buy a telescope and take photos of deep space objects like you do.  What do I need?
The Orion Nebula M42 by CapturingTheNight Diving Into The Lagoon Again by CapturingTheNight
This is a big question and one of the ones I get the most.  You need to ask yourself what do you want to image the most (planets, other galaxies, nebulae, etc.).  Each answer has it's own list of equipment that is better than others.  It's not that you can not image everything with the one setup but some are more suitable than others.  
It's not all about the telescope.  The mount is the most important aspect of astrophotography.  Bad mount + great telescope = bad photos.  Great mount + any telescope (or even just a camera and lens)= great photos.  This is my deep space astrophotography setup.....
Behind The Scenes by CapturingTheNight
The mount cost nearly three times as much as the telescope.  Expect to pay about $1,500 Australian Dollars to get the minimum good mount for deep sky imaging.
I can highly recommend purchasing this www.astropix.com/BGDA/BGDA.HTM
I can highly recommend joining a local astronomy club to try before you buy and learn from people already doing it.
I can highly recommend joining online astronomy forums like "Cloudy Nights" or "Ice In Space" and asking lots of questions.
I can highly recommend subscribing to astronomy magazines

:bulletblue: How do you do your landscape astrophotography or what settings did you use?
Rising Tide by CapturingTheNight The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by CapturingTheNight
First off, I hate the question "What settings did you use?"  Even more so if you don't even fav the photo or follow my work.  A sure fire way to get a non response from me if you just write that.  It does not matter what settings I use unless you have exactly the same equipment I have and are standing next to me in the same conditions.   If you dialed in the same settings that I have used I can almost guarantee that 99 times out of 100 that you will get an image that looks nothing like mine or you wouldn't even be able to use the settings because your equipment does not allow it.
To work out what you can do with your equipment check out my tutorial here......
Fixed Tripod Astrophotography And The 600 Rule by CapturingTheNight 
Once you fully understand the 600 Rule all your other camera settings will flow off that for fixed tripod astrophotography.  If you don't like what the 600 Rule says for your equipment- buy better equipment.  That's what I did.
I can highly recommend you buy this eBook harvestinglight.net/seeing-the…
And/or this eBook as well www.philhart.com/shooting-star…
Get outside at night and practice, practice, practice.  Learn the night sky.  Not all the night sky is as photogenic as some areas.  Get as far away from light pollution as you can.

:bulletblue: I have purchased all the equipment you have and I have my images but they still don't look anything like yours.  What do I still need to do?
Image processing is vital to astrophotography.  It is not a hobby to take up if you have an aversion to using things like photoshop and other image editing programs.  For deep sky images you can easily spend as much time processing the images and digging all the faint detail out of the data, as you did outside taking the shots.  Watch this YouTube vid www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBQQ_G… to see a very good tutorial on basic deep space astrophotography image processing .  A lot of the techniques used can also be applied to landscape astrophotography.

I am constantly learning and refining how I process my images and I will only stop learning the day I die.  One thing I have seen come up a lot lately is the word Photoshop.  As in comments like "Fake.  I believe that this image has been photoshopped"
Photoshop seems to have become a bit of a dirty word in terms of photography for some people.  It has become a term for compositing or faking images.

Do I use Photoshop to paste a stolen or computer generated star filled sky image over my own landscape shot?  NO, I do not.

Do I use Photoshop (or Lightroom, or Camera Raw, or Digital Photo Professional, or PTGui Pro, or one of the multitude of other image editing programs available) to edit my images.  Of course I do.  And unless you are using a film camera, you edit images too.  Even if you are just taking a jpeg digital image straight from the camera to your computer, the data has most likely already been edited by your camera and does not represent exactly what you saw with your own eyes.
If I use an image editing program to crop, straighten, White Balance correct, saturate/desaturate, sharpen, apply/remove vignette, adjust exposure or contrast, etc. is that "Photoshop"?  In my opinion, no.  They are standard actions which have been applied by photographers ever since the first picture was developed in a darkroom.  Image editing programs like Photoshop are, for me, just a digital darkroom in which I develop my images.
Everything you see in my images is captured by me and my camera and more often than not, in a single exposure.  The only exceptions to this are generally my startrail images  (where I stack multiple images to show the stars motion across the sky), my solar images (where I do one exposure for the surface of the sun and one exposure for the fainter prominences around the solar limb), my panorama images (where I stitch multiple single images together to capture a larger field of view), and my deep sky images (where I do a number of exposures to improve the signal to noise ratio).  When ever I do do multiple images I always declare so in the image description.  If I have not mentioned multiple exposures then the shot was all done in a single image.

Steven Christenson has a great online article in which he talks about his thoughts on image processing and composite images and it echoes my thoughts exactly.  Check it out here...  blog.starcircleacademy.com/201…



Well I hope this has helped set you on your way to doing astrophotography like I do.  From now on if anyone asks me how I did a shot I will simply be directing them to this journal  (if I have not already described how I did it in the description).  I will NOT be expanding on anything I have talked about here unless I feel the need.  You now have the resources I used to get going in this.  What you do with them and how far you want to go with it is up to you.

Cheers

Greg

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:iconsombra-khenney:
sombra-khenney Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Student Digital Artist
im completely mindblown....still so many "hows"
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much :D
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:icondavenwolf:
Davenwolf Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Here's a question for you if you get time. The other night I fluked the Solar pole/axis whatever it's called anyway do you know of an app that helps to locate it. I have Planets app but it doesn't really help and there's so many stars here I can't seem to find the right stars amongst the billions of others.
davenwolf.deviantart.com/art/R…
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Nice shot.  I'm not sure of any apps as I do not have a 'smart' phone (I know, I know... :D), but it is pretty simple to locate the south celestial pole without using technology.  The southern hemisphere does not have a bright pole star like the northern hemisphere does with Polaris.  I assume you are familiar with the Southern Cross?  Just use it and "The Pointers" to locate the south celestial pole like this: www.csiro.au/helix/sciencemail…
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:icondavenwolf:
Davenwolf Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
cool thanx, hey I was at Albury Library/museum last week at a museum conference and saw your images.  
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Good to hear that you saw the exhibition.
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:icondavenwolf:
Davenwolf Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
brilliant, thanks for going to the trouble. :)
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Hope it helps :D
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:icondavenwolf:
Davenwolf Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It did, my mistake was I setting my aperture way too high.
 
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:iconregnar3712:
regnar3712 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013
thx a lot!
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Glad you like it :D
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:iconwildmandrake:
wildmandrake Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013  Professional Writer
Greg I love the journal... I love your work and will continue to watch and enjoy... I'm not interested in trying to reproduce or do what you do i just love and admire it... I'm busy with my own obsessions and the expertise i have to develop to do them at a level that may match yours one day... besides what I did with the same equipment and techniques and landscape/sky would be different and I'd be happy with that.... in the meantime there are a few different ways for you to share your art and skills to "get back some of the money you've spent" obviously there are exhibitons and books, trad art media, but there is also workshops where people pay for the the info you've just given and more helping people find their own aesthetic and individual art in the sky is also one of them... talk to a local hotel/motel they get customers they supply function room for the tech talk stuff... nothing happens if no one signs up but if you get 10 people paying a $200 for a guided night of photography of the star with a few hours lead in the day before setting up and a few hours the day after showing them how to work the photos up in Ps you've had a good weekend...

I love this journal because it deepens my appreciation of what goes into the photos not because i want to do them just because i want to an educated veiwer/lover of your work, keep it up...
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much for the great feedback Christopher :D I really appreciate it. I certainly have plans to run a few workshops at some stage. I have done a similar thing with a few local clubs in my area. Thanks again. I'll try to keep doing more of what you like.
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:iconbrightstar2:
BrightStar2 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013
it is wonderful that you have done this to help us beginners,
i already have this in my journal fav's already,
but just not found the time to read it as yet, thanks for the link....
maybe i should move it to things to do soon.....lol
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Glad you like it :D Thanks
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:iconfreddiecruger:
freddiecruger Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
this is perfect, thank you
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Glad you like it.
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:iconlyrak:
Lyrak Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I think one of the biggest mistakes of photographers in general, for ANY kind of photo, is either being averse to editing, or not understanding how to do it right. Throwing an Instagram filter at it, while it works for some photos, is not a catchall, though some people have started using it as one (nothing peeves me off more than photos of something a person is trying to sell that have been Instagrammed to death - show me what I'm buying, not your fancy color filters). More often than not, all you need is some simple tweaking. But even if you do like filters, knowing how to customize them on your own produces something much nicer than just using default settings. I use Paint.NET for most of my color correction - it's a great, lightweight little program for simple fixes, but if you use the automatic color correction, it will turn everything bluish.

Even everything I scan gets color corrected, because the scan is rarely the same color I see in person, so I have to tweak it until it looks as close to the real image as possible.

Being afraid to pull it into an editing program is nothing more than a hindrance. Very VERY rarely do I get an image that doesn't have to be edited at least slightly.
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much for your great thoughts on the subject. :D I really appreciate it.
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:iconr4tt3:
r4tt3 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Everything you're publishing is a good reason to keep following you! Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge! (And for showing your work wich grew out of your knowledge)
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Thank you for the nice feedback on my work.
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:iconr4tt3:
r4tt3 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013
youre very welcome :) please keep on working!
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Awesome journal, Greg. It's been fascinating and enthralling to watch how much you've improved even since I started following you. Now whenever someone asks a question about your work, you can just link them to this journal! ;)
I've always loved your deep sky and wide-field milky way images. I wish I could shoot with a similar setup, but to really do it right, it's just not in the cards for me right now. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy the depths of space through your images while shooting trails from my backyard =D
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much Evan :D I'm very glad you like it and thanks for the great feedback on my work. It has been quite a ride over the last couple of years.
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:icono0oluxo0o:
o0oLUXo0o Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
Great Stuff Bro! I'm going to give this a Try next weekend in Yosemite I hope! Going to print it out even! We will see how it goes.. and if it comes out good Ill even share my settings with you! ;)

Thanks for the Great Info Greg!
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Glad you like it mate. Can't wait to see what you can do in Yosemite. Drooling with envy.
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:icondanielheydecke:
DanielHeydecke Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
THIS will come in handy. Thanks!
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Glad you like it.
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:icondarkhunter2009:
darkHunTer2009 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Wow! thank you for taking your time to write this ! Such a helpful amount of information! Truly inspirational!
If I wasn't a poor student and lived next to sooo much light pollution I would go out there and get photos asap!!

Thank yo u!
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Glad you like it.
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:iconmerlynhawk:
merlynhawk Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
My aunt has a small observatory on her property and she also does astro-photography. you may have heard of her. Her name is Denise Libby.

I've followed you for a long time and love your art.:hug:
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much :D Your Aunts does not sound familiar but then again I have a mind like a sieve sometimes so I may have come across her work before
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:icontillieke:
tillieke Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for your time and effort making this write-up
My only problems now being time and living in an incredible light-polluted country :P
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure. Glad you like it :D
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:iconsimen91:
simen91 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
After I started to "watch" you I have gotten tons of motivation to continue astrophotography. I have not done it much, just about 5 trips over 2 weeks (after that I have been occupied by work, or the weather hasn't been good enough), but I have upgraded my equipment after working those extra hours. I really feel like this is a hobby I can love.

Watching inspirational images like the ones you take or those winning(or entering) you recent contest is a must if you want to start with this, in my opinion. Having milestones and goals to reach in visible elements contained in those great photographs are one of the top inspirations to me.

So. That was it. I just wanted to compliment you, and thank you for sharing all those "secrets". I have found that most people that have hobbies like astrophotography and time-lapse (which I combine with the astrophoto-hobby) have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on equipment and don't want to give away advice for free. So it has really been just try and fail for me to this point. So there is one last thing I wonder. Do you have any tips on panorama shots? I have had some trouble doing them earlier, and haven't yet tried them in astrophotography, but you are among the greatest panorama-astrophotographers I have seen on the internet, so I hoped that I could learn something from you :) Mainly I am curious how you rotate the camera seeing at the sensor is often a bit in front of the tripod-mount which makes the panorama a tad disorted just turning the tripod head. And the second thing I wonder is how you stitch them together seeing as long shutter-speeds will allow for the stars to move between images which I imagine will be hard to stitch seamlessly.

Thanks in advance!
Have you ever sold any of your images to big international magazines like National Geographic or similar? I saw Ben Canales (another great astrophotographer) won the 2011 NatGeo Traveler contest, but I think your panoramas are even better than most of his photos.
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much for the great feedback :D I'm glad you like it and that I can inspire you. I have not submitted my work to any of those things yet. I am a big fan of Ben's work. He was one of the first people who I started following once I got into this. As for panos....note sent.
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:iconsimen91:
simen91 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
No problem. I believe work that takes time deserves feedback that takes time :)

Well, you should be on the lookout for those then! I think you would have good odds entering. I guess there could be some money in it as well.
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:iconleashahooker:
LeashaHooker Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Photographer
Fame comes with a price, many want to do it and the easy way! :giggle: Great article Greg! Keep up the fantastic work...

ps - what are your settings??? :lmao:
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:lmao: :P Thanks Leasha :D
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:iconsimonebyrne:
simonebyrne Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Photographer
Thank you very much for taking the time to write this information packed resource Greg. Your work is absolutely amazing and a testiment to the many hours you have spent perfecting your craft. Congratulations on every aspect of your work and once again thank you for your generosity, starscapes is the one genre that I have always admired greatly and I look forward to seeing what I can produce with my equipment. Wishing you a great weekend! (what's left of it!) :aww:
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much for that great feedback :D I'm glad you liked it.
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:iconelandria:
Elandria Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional General Artist
Really really useful! Thanks for taking the time to write all this down for people!
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :D Glad you like it.
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:iconzeroth57:
Zeroth57 Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Incredibly well documented and full of information. I have purchased some additional equipment and with your advise in this article and your postings, I will br giving it a go when time permits
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:iconcapturingthenight:
CapturingTheNight Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much :D I wish you the best of luck with it all
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:iconmitas:
Mitas Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012
Thank you for this and for your tutorial about the 600 rule! Things got clearer for me now:)
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