Your pic­tures

Top tips from our photography ex­perts who of­fer friendly and con­struc­tive ad­vice on im­ages re­ceived from DP read­ers

Digital Photo (UK) - - CONTENTS - by Bran­don Yoshizawa

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

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!

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