What I Learned Shooting the Neowise Comet

I strive to capture moments in time with my photography, and one thing I like is once in a lifetime or very rare moments. The Neowise comet (aka C/2020 F3 NEOWISE) is one of those moments that won’t happen again for about another 6,800 years.I preface this by saying I have not done very much astrophotography. I’ve dabbled in it from time to time, but I was never impressed by what I captured (except for shooting the eclipse in 2017). This failure was mostly due to not having the right gear such as a large aperture lens.When I saw that the Neowise comet was going to be viewable at a reasonable hour of the night and early morning, I set out to see if I could capture it. I want to share with you what I learned.1. You Might Fail at FirstI set out on July 9th to see if I could capture Neowise over my local lighthouse on Lake Michigan. Dragging myself out of bed at 3 am, I quickly grabbed my coffee and set out for the lake. I had planned where I wanted to be with Photopills, but I also knew I had limited composition options due to my location on a pier.Upon reaching the pier, I saw a small amount of haze low on the horizon, but not enough to call it quits. I figured that even if I couldn’t see the comet, the sunrise might be beautiful. I underestimated the comet’s visibility, and with my not-so-stellar eyesight, I didn’t see it. However, I did do a 15-second exposure of the lighthouse. I then shot some lightning off in the distance, the sunrise, and some baby ducklings. It was a great morning.After I got home and imported the images into Lightroom, I discovered that I had indeed captured the comet by accident. After seeing this, it was game on. I was sure that I could get a much better photo the next time. The exposure was a bit long for astrophotography in this case.

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