How to take bet­ter pho­tos with a DSLR NIGHTSCAPES

You can use a DSLR cam­era on its own to achieve some great qual­ity, stun­ning pho­tos of the night sky


Smart­phones are great for quick, grab-and-go shots of the night sky, but for larger, more de­tailed images use a cam­era with a larger aper­ture, a wider range of set­tings and man­ual con­trol. With a dig­i­tal sin­gle lens UH H[ '6/5 FDPHUD RU D 0,/& 0LUURUOHVV ,QWHUFKDQJHDEOH /HQV &DPHUD \RX FDQ FDSWXUH D PXFK wider range of night-time sub­jects in bet­ter qual­ity. They also have in­ter­change­able lenses, so you can swap to a more pow­er­ful lens to close in on bright deep-sky ob­jects.

Hands-on set­tings

The imag­ing chips in these cam­eras KDYH ZLGH ,62 VHQVLWLYLW\ UDQJHV al­low­ing fainter light from more stars to be recorded for great re­sults. You should also have an op­tion to set the VKXWWHU VSHHG WKH H[SRVXUH LQ in­cre­ments up to 30 sec­onds. Af­ter that, they’ll have a bulb or ‘B’ set­ting that keeps the shut­ter open as long as the re­lease is pressed to achieve HYHQ ORQJHU H[SRVXUHV JUHDW IRU star trails.

DSLRs that suit bud­ding as­tro LPDJHUV LQFOXGH WKH &DQRQ (26 1200D, 1300D, 750D and 200D mod­els, and the Nikon D5600, D610 and en­try-level D3400. Lens­wise, the stan­dard DSLR zoom lenses PP IRFDO OHQJWK ZLOO FDSWXUH the main con­stel­la­tions, brighter VHFWLRQV RI WKH 0LON\ :D\ DQG GHWDLO within au­ro­rae. A wide-an­gle lens ZLWK D IRFDO OHQJWK RI PP ZLOO take in the larger con­stel­la­tions and large au­ro­ral dis­plays, and a tele­photo lens of 100-500mm fo­cal length will give zoomed-in views of bright stars in as­ter­isms and clus­ters such as the Hyades.

)L[HG IRFDO OHQJWK OHQVHV DUH HDVLHU to fo­cus than zoom lenses and they of­ten have wider aper­ture set­tings,

en­abling more light to get to the sen­sor. Don’t for­get you’ll also need a tri­pod and a re­mote shut­ter re­lease to pre­vent un­wanted cam­era move­ment.

To take good nightscape images with these cam­eras, don’t use their LQ EXLOW DXWRPDWLF H[SRVXUH VHWWLQJV These are use­ful when imag­ing in twi­light, but when it’s dark the auto rou­tines don't cope well with low light lev­els. Switch to man­ual mode VR WKDW \RX FDQ FRQWURO WKH ,62 H[SRVXUH DQG OHQV DSHUWXUH VHWWLQJV

At­tach your cam­era to a tri­pod and plug in the re­mote shut­ter UHOHDVH FDEOH ,I \RX GRQ W KDYH RQH RU \RX FDQ W QG WKH MDFN IRU LW XVH the de­lay timer. From a moder­ately dark site, you can get a good pic­ture of a con­stel­la­tion like Leo with a 50mm fo­cal length lens by set­ting the aper­ture as wide as it will go I RU HYHQ I WKH ,62 WR DQG WKH H[SRVXUH WR VHFRQGV Find­ing fo­cus at night can also be tricky: zoom in on your cam­era’s live-view screen if it has one, or fo­cus on a bright ob­ject on the hori­zon. Re­mem­ber to switch the aut­o­fo­cus to man­ual af­ter you’ve achieved a sharp view.

7U\ EUDFNHWLQJ \RXU H[SRVXUHV WDNH D UDQJH RI GLIIHUHQW H[SRVXUH OHQJWKV DW YDULRXV ,62 YDOXHV WR VHH which pro­duces the image with the best over­all bal­ance be­tween sky dark­ness and star bright­ness. Try H[SRVLQJ IRU YH VHFRQGV HLWKHU VLGH RI WKH LQLWLDO H[SRVXUH RI VHFRQGV

Your es­sen­tial starter kit: a tri­pod, cam­era and shut­ter re­lease ca­ble

A dig­i­tal cam­era will help you to cap­ture the finer de­tails in au­ro­rae

With a long ex­po­sure and a wide aper­ture you can re­veal the glory of the Milky Way

It’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to cap­ture great con­stel­la­tion shots – this is Leo – from even a moder­ately dark site

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