Taking a TIME-LAPSE
Capture the dynamic movement of the night sky
By taking a series of photos at regular intervals over a period of 10 minutes or more you can make the 0RRQ V PRWLRQ DFURVV WKH VN\ D VXQULVH RU FRORXUIXO clouds at sunset look really dramatic. It’s easy with D VPDUWSKRQH )LUVW PRXQW LW VHFXUHO\ DQG HQDEOH WKH remote shutter release. Make sure you have plenty of spare storage capacity on your phone – videos can EH DQ\ZKHUH IURP 0% WR 0% LQ VL]H WKHQ LW V D FDVH RI IRFXVLQJ RQ WKH EULJKW WDUJHW
&RQVLGHU LQFOXGLQJ D EULJKW KRUL]RQ LQ WKH IUDPH WR KHOS \RX KHUH DQG VLQFH LW V VWDWLF LW OO HPSKDVLVH DQ\ PRYHPHQW LQ WKH VN\ EH\RQG WRR %HIRUH OPLQJ EH sure to focus on the Moon and put your camera app into AE (auto-exposure) lock mode to stop it compensating for changes in light. The iPhone and several Android phones have a time-lapse mode in their standard camera app. If your camera phone GRHVQ W KDYH RQH FRQVLGHU DSSV OLNH /DSVH ,W IUHH L26 DQG $QGURLG RU 7LPHODSVH 3UR IUHH :LQGRZV 3KRQH
your headphones and then use the volume control on their cord as a remote shutter release. When you’re ready to shoot, a ZLGH HOG VKRW RI D EULJKW REMHFW such as Mars, Jupiter or the Moon above the horizon is a great subject with which to start.
Even so, focusing on what appears to the camera as a bright dot can be challenging. That’s where the horizon comes in: having it in the shot gives your smartphone something distant to focus on – more so if there are some lit regions on the ground. The camera’s auto functions may pick up the night sky targets; if not, install an app that gives you manual control such as Night Cam! (iOS; £1.49) or Open Camera (Android; free).
Shooting constellations really pushes the limits of a smartphone’s small-aperture camera – they can lack the brightness to register properly. With your phone securely PRXQWHG \RX OO QG IRFXVLQJ RQ constellations is even more of a challenge, so an app with manual camera control like NightCap Camera (iOS; £1.99) or Camera FV-5 (Android; £2.49) is even more crucial. You’ll also need to increase the sensitivity of the camera: aim for as high an ISO as possible and use an exposure that’s one second or more in length. Start with one of the brighter, more recognisable constellations – Orion in winter, Cygnus in summer, Leo in spring, Taurus in autumn – and if the UHVXOWLQJ VKRWV ORRN GDUN DW UVW adjust the levels in a program like Photoshop or GIMP to reveal the brighter stars.
You can also take time-lapse photos to show the movement of the night sky, and point the camera down the eyepiece of a telescope for zoomed-in shots of the Moon or planets. But that’s about the limit of the small-aperture, [HG IRFDO length lens on a smartphone when it comes to capturing the night sky.
Try to have some horizon in shot to give the camera something to focus on
Orion is a winter constellation bright enough that it can be captured using a smartphone camera
Film time-lapse movies using a tripod for steadiness
No time-lapse mode on your phone? Then use Lapse It
The iPhone has its own in-built time-lapse function