Capture night-sky detail
Christian Hoiberg (capturelandscapes.com) explains how to maximise sharpness and definition in astro landscapes
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.