Stargazing: Night Sky Photography

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Night sky is an endlessly rewarding experience. Photographing the wonders of the night sky provides a special connection between us and nature. Full-blown DSLR cameras provide a night sky photography mode with greater clarity. The details that the results show are also much larger than our eyes can see.

Stargazing Night Sky Photography

Night Sky Photography for Stargazing

How to take spectacular pictures of the night sky can be done with a DSLR camera. Here we will discuss a beginner’s guide to taking pictures of the night sky. In the following guide, you will find basic techniques and creative ways to photograph the night sky.

Camera Shooting Mode and Aperture

You can try putting your camera into Manual which will give you the ability to change the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. If you’ve never shot in manual before, you can study up to find out. You can then set a f-number of f/4 or lower to get the widest aperture possible.

Shooting Location

Timing and planning the shooting location is necessary and important. You can research the location and visualize the composition. Also, you can go to a higher altitude. This will make the image clearer and more detailed as fewer air particles scatter the light.

Basic Equipment Preparation

You don’t need expensive equipment to take night sky photography here are some basic equipment that is enough to get started:

  • Camera with full-frame Manual mode function.
  • A sturdy tripod for shooting long exposures in windy conditions.
  • For shooting with wide-angle lenses build a camera with a wide aperture.
  • A shutter release cable that will help minimize potential camera shake and also shoot exposures longer than 30 seconds.

Focusing in Darkness

First set the lens to manual focus using the AF/MF switch and then use the “Live View” feature to display a preview of the image on the camera’s LCD screen.

Next identify a bright star or distant light source and digitally magnify the point of light. Adjust the focus ring until the star or light source becomes as small and sharp as possible.

Once the focus is set, you can shoot and wait for the image to appear on the LCD screen. If the background is dark enough, you can paint over the subject using a flashlight or cell phone light as long as the lighting can help brighten the scene.

Keep Trying

Shooting the night sky is indeed a blank canvas for portraits for photographers. It requires a lot of experimentation to find which settings work best to get a tasteful portrait. In the process of trying you will gain more understanding and fascination for the cosmos.

If you want to photograph stars or the moon in particular, you can consider making a series of exposures in the foreground to be combined as an HDR composite. Night sky photography is something you can try continuously to get the best results.