Cap­ture night-sky de­tail

Chris­tian Hoiberg (cap­ture­land­ ex­plains how to max­imise sharp­ness and def­i­ni­tion in as­tro land­scapes

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

1 USE A TRI­POD Since we’re work­ing with slow shut­ter speeds at night it’s ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to use a tri­pod. Us­ing one re­duces the like­li­hood of the stars or other el­e­ments be­ing blurry due to cam­era vi­bra­tion/mo­tion.

2 MAN­UAL MODE You need to go fully man­ual dur­ing night pho­tog­ra­phy. I rec­om­mend us­ing an open aper­ture such as f2.8 or wider in or­der to cap­ture as much de­tail in the sky as pos­si­ble. You’ll also need a high ISO (16003200+) and a slow shut­ter speed.

3 AVOID OVERLY LONG EX­PO­SURES Very slow shut­ter speeds re­sult in blurry stars (known as star trails) and too fast a shut­ter speed re­sults in an un­der­ex­posed im­age. A rule of thumb to find the ideal shut­ter speed is to di­vide 500 (or 300 for crop sen­sors) by the fo­cal length.

4 FO­CUS MAN­U­ALLY While cam­eras are get­ting bet­ter, most of them strug­gle to fo­cus prop­erly in the dark. The so­lu­tion is to fo­cus man­u­ally; use Live View and find the bright­est shin­ing star or a dis­tant light source and fo­cus on it. The sweet spot is around in­fin­ity.

5 DON’T FOR­GET COM­PO­SI­TION The most com­mon mis­take I see in night pho­tog­ra­phy is the ten­dency to point the cam­era up and ne­glect the fore­ground. A good im­age needs a good com­po­si­tion, so in­cor­po­rate the night sky into the frame and ex­ist­ing com­po­si­tion.

6 TAKE TEST SHOTS The fi­nal step is to take a se­ries of test shots. It can be hard to find the com­po­si­tion in the dark, so you of­ten need to take a few ex­tra test shots in or­der to fine-tune it, as well as to per­fect the ex­po­sure and fo­cus.

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