Digital Camera World

A TO Z OF NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Source: With a high ISO setting and a long exposure, you can get started in astrophotography and capture amazing images of the night sky.

YOUR 9 FREE NIGHT SHOOTING TIPS CARDS Take your free cards out on location

A is for Astro-photography

If there’s one thing that makes us humans feel small, it’s the stellar display arcing above our heads on a dark, clear night. Atmospheric conditions and proximity to towns and cities affect how many stars we can see, but if you can see them with the naked eye, you can capture them on your camera’s sensor.

Shooting the night sky takes you into the realm of astro-photography. Although you can make a sizeable investment in highly specialised kit, capturing constellations and broad star fields requires nothing more than a SLR and a tripod.

Set a high ISO of 1,600, use a wide-angle lens set to its largest aperture, and set the exposure mode to Manual. Focus manually using Live View: to do this, zoom right in on the screen, scroll around to find a star close to the centre, and gently rotate the focusing ring until it appears at its sharpest. With the shutter speed dialled to 30 sec, take a shot. Check the sharpness on screen: if all looks good, welcome to the amazing world of astro-photography!

B is for Bulb

Night shooting requires long exposures to ensure that the faint light levels are recorded on the sensor. SLRs will take you to 30 seconds in Manual exposure mode, but there may be times when you require longer shutter speeds to record really dark scenes such as moonlit landscapes.

Using Bulb mode allows you to hold the shutter open for as long as you want, giving the light more time to register on the imaging chip. Holding down the shutter button for minutes at a time is uncomfortable and can lead to unwanted movement of the camera, so Bulb exposures are best carried out with a remote release. This allows you to press the button once to start the exposure, and once to end it, while you count off the seconds on a stopwatch.

C is for composition

Framing up a night scene is easy in well-lit towns and cities – but try it with a starry sky or a rural landscape, and you’ll find you can’t see a thing through the viewfinder. Live View mode can often reveal more, but you may still have

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