Whether you’re a beginner photographer just learning how to best use your camera or a professional photographer looking to hone your craft, astrophotography or night photography can be difficult to master. From technique to location choice, there are a lot of factors to getting that perfect shot of the Milky Way. It takes a lot of practice and some trial and error, but when you finally get that shot, it’s so rewarding (Think: 1,000+ Instagram likes!). We’ve put together a basic guide to help you to take some amazing shots of constellations, the Milky Way, moonlit landscapes, and more.
1. Choose the Right Location
Head to the hills! The higher you go in elevation, the thinner the atmosphere and thus, the less light refraction you’ll have. You’ll get crisper, brighter shots with greater transparency. Also, ensure that your location is at least miles away from city lights to reduce light pollution.
2. Set-Up That Tri-Pod
You need longer exposures for night photography, so a tripod will be key to making sure that your subjects remain in focus. Start by facing one leg of the tripod at your subject so that you can stand between the other two legs.
3. Use the Rule of Thirds
So, what is the “Rule of Thirds”? Essentially, the Rule of Thirds helps you frame your image in a balanced way. Divide your photograph into a 3×3 grid and make sure that your horizon sits in the bottom third of the photograph, while the night sky takes up the upper two thirds.
4. Let Your Eyes Adjust
It typically takes about 45 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. While this might seem excessive, it’ll be worth it when you can maneuver and make adjustments without turning on a bunch of lights and when you can enjoy the peaceful beauty of the starscapes without interruption. If you do find yourself needing some illumination, use the red light setting on your headlamp, which won’t affect your night vision.
5. Set Your Camera for the Night Sky
- Here are some basic guidelines to set up your camera for taking nighttime photos of the stars:
- Set your camera to take RAW images
- Exposure Time: 8 seconds or more
- Aperture (f-stop): f/2.8
- Sensor Speed (ISO): 1600+
Pro Tip: Using a high ISO will ensure that the camera registers the low-light environment. If you have a camera that can extend above an ISO of 1600, that’s even better.
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