Top tips from our photography experts who offer friendly and constructive advice on images received from DP readers
Our experts take a look at readers’ images and give practical tips for making them even better.
What was used Camera Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8 lens Exposure 15secs at f/2.8, ISO 3200 Software Lightroom I love capturing images of the night sky, and I’ve been shooting astrophotography for about four years now. While it’s a difficult subject, it’s also very rewarding; a real step into the unknown. This was taken on a frosty winter night in the middle of the Californian desert. It was set up to mimic a crash landing with a person signalling for help towards the sky. A lantern was used to illuminate the cockpit while a high-powered flashlight was used for the beam. I think the human element not only adds to the story but also shows the scale of how large this aircraft is!
Matt says This is, quite frankly, a marvellous piece of work. And this being the last issue of
Digital Photo, let’s just say that Brandon has officially ‘won’ the Your Pictures section. Congratulations. Everything from the choice of subject and location, to the skill of capture is top-notch and I take my hat off to Brandon (more of whose splendid work can be seen at bay-photography.com).
There’s even a nice bit of narrative and, as Brandon says, the figure adds much-needed scale to the scene, showing the size of the derelict B-52E in its desert graveyard.
When it comes to the technique involved, I can’t really fault Brandon’s efforts either. The 15sec shutter speed has kept the tapestry of stars nice and sharp, coming in well under the ‘500 Rule’ which would, in theory, allow speeds down to 25sec while still giving acceptably sharp stars. The 500 Rule is used by astrophotographers to work out what speeds they can shoot at and render stars as points of light, rather than trails; 500 is divided by the focal length (20mm) to give the shutter speed (25secs).
The focusing, which can be tricky at a light-sucking f/2.8 aperture, is pin-sharp. And while of course there’s a trade-off when it comes to using high ISO settings, ramping up the gain of the sensor is part and parcel of shooting static stars.
It’s possible that Brandon could have saved himself a stop of ISO by opening the aperture wider and using a slower shutter speed, but there would have been a trade-off in critical sharpness from the lens, and more movement in the sky. Either way, the grain isn’t overpowering, but it’s always worth making sure you don’t sharpen the sky in shots like this, as that area will degrade in quality more noticeably than the foreground.
The only changes I would make are minor, adding a little more detail in the shadowy recesses of the broken fuselage and increasing the saturation.
Finally, UK readers, don’t feel too crushed; there are plenty of dark sky spots on our isles where you can cook up shots just as striking as this, with the pick of the crop being Kielder Water in Northumberland, along with the Brecon Beacons, so get out there and get shooting!