Taking pictures of night sky and stars?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Star_Climber, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Star_Climber

    Star_Climber TPF Noob!

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    Would like to try it out,but dunno how?
     
  2. LucyRose

    LucyRose TPF Noob!

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    tripod + long shutter speed
     
  3. goodoneian

    goodoneian TPF Noob!

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    a good way to start would be a low iso (100 or 200), probably a minimum of an 8 second shutter, and an aperture to correspond to those two settings. sometimes i like to over expose by 1/3-2/3 of a stop though, just to brighten things up. also, set your white balance to tungsten, which is the little light bulb. that should help to get rid of most if not all ugly orange hues. and a tripod of course. :wink:
     
  4. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    Yep, tripod, long shutter, hopefully a remote to trigger with (or self timer if you dont have a remote) Stick with as low of an ISO as possible to avoid a noisy image. At higher ISO's, noise will accumulate quickly in the dark sky. Even lower ISO's will come out somewhat noisy, but nowhere near as bad as a high one. Try to do it on a very clear night with little to no (preferably no!) wind, and make sure you have a nice sturdy tripod.

    I've been experimenting with this recently. Here is one of the first images I got, done as a B&W conversion. It's not the greatest, but I was happy with it for one of my first attempts. You can just barely make out the trees in the foreground.

    [​IMG]

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  5. Star_Climber

    Star_Climber TPF Noob!

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    It's a wonderful picture:heart:
    great job!
     
  6. cosmoepic

    cosmoepic TPF Noob!

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    here is a night shot i did, this was taken with a P&S canon sx10 is set to a 15 sec exposure

    [​IMG]

    it was one of my first shots too so there is a bit of noise, you just have to remember with the sky being so dark you need as much light getting into the cam as possible and dont let the cam move at all during exposure
     
  7. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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  8. Jaszek

    Jaszek No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm jealous of the people that posted pics...we only see one star here in NYC :p
     
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  9. hossmaster

    hossmaster TPF Noob!

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    here's one of five or six stitched together, messing around with HDR techniques. Not that great, yet still has a lot in the picture

    [​IMG]
     
  10. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Quick tips...

    1. Shoot in RAW when doing night photog.
    2. Overexpose slightly in capture, dial it back down a bit in post processing.
    3. Remember that smaller aperatures will give you a star effect with points of light.
     
  11. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Night shooting is a ton of fun, the results can be spectacular! Night shooting takes alot of time, practice, and more than anything, patience. Night shooting isn't something that you'll be done with quickly. Your first attempt will be ugly as hell, everyone screws it up the first time, trust me, don't get bummed about it. My first attempt was so bad, I deleted the pictures, and I never delete my pictures. But, over the past years I’ve formulated a pretty good method of shooting at night, but like always, your millage may vary.

    Before you decide to go take pictures at night, you'll need 3 (possibly 5) things:

    1. Freshly charged batteries. Nothing will kill your battery faster than long exposures. The picture of Mt. Hood below was shot on a fresh battery and believe it or not, my battery died just a couple minutes before the exposure hit 1 hour, leaving it slightly underexposed.

    2. A cable release or remote. They're cheap, there's no reason you can't go and spend (maybe) $25. If you don't have one, long exposures are impossible. Pressing the shutter when your camera is set to Bulb doesn't work.

    3. A real tripod. Not the crappy 25-60 dollar Sunpak/Quantaray/Slik sticks, they suck, and when it's breezy out, those lousy plastic heads don't do jack. Invest at least $200 in a Gitzo or Bogen/Manfrotto system. Trust me when I say it could easily be the last tripod you'll ever buy. I went through 3 of the lousy quantarays in 4 months to figure that one out.

    (The possibly 4th one)
    Another person shooting with you. If you don't have a good way to pass the time, you'll get impatient and thus, lazy, shooting yourself in the foot because you "just couldn't wait to see it".

    (The possibly 5th one)
    Hot packs, food, a flashlight, and a first aid kit. If you're out at 2 in the morning in the middle of a desolated area such as the mountains in below freezing temperatures, your camera battery will die quicker. Rubber band hot packs around the battery housing to keep the battery warmer and thus keeping it alive longer. Hot packs would have let my finish my Mt. Hood exposure, I know it. Food is good because it will help keep you awake, pass the time, and hey, you might actually get hungry. I always forget a flashlight and I always say "Damnit! I knew i forgot something!" I don't think I need to explain why a first aid kit is a good idea, if you're out in the middle of nowhere and something happens, it helps to be at least somewhat prepared.



    Now that we have all our gear in order and we're at our location, how the heck are we going to pull this off?!?!

    This is how I do it, and like i said, your mileage may vary.

    Set up my camera on my tripod, hook up my cable release, compose and focus. My camera has a "virtual horizon" so I can easily see if 'm level or not, if your camera doesn't have that, I suggest getting your hands on a bubble level that slips in your hot shoe. Also, I set my WB pretty cool to keep things looking like night, if it's too warm, you'll make it look like daylight. I start off at about 2500K. (if you don't know what color temperature the light sources are, I suggest learning that quick instead of using the daylight, cloudy, or shade WB's).

    Now what about exposure, the important part right?

    I start off my very first exposure at 30 seconds ISO 6400, f/8. If that doesn't give me an accurate exposure, then I adjust my ISO up or down. I'd rather do 30 seconds at 25600 then 2 minutes at 6400. If I still don't get a good exposure, I’ll open up my aperture, if still under, THEN I’ll adjust my shutter speed. It's just a test shot, it's going to be deleted anyway, so why the heck should I care if its noisy or not. Once I find out what my exposure is, I count down and crunch the numbers to whatever the exposure is at ISO 100 and f/8.

    Why f/8 you might ask? because it's your lens's sharpest aperture without being diffraction limited no matter what camera you're shooting, and 98% of the time, gives you enough DOF.

    So, if my test shot is 30 seconds, f/8, ISO 12800, what is my final exposure going to be?

    Lets bring down the ISO..

    30 sec/ISO 12800
    1 min/ISO 6400
    2 min/ISO 3200
    4 min/ISO 1600
    8 min/ISO 800
    16 min/ISO 400
    32 min/ISO 200
    1 hour/ISO 100

    OY VEY! 1 HOUR!! What the hell am I going to do for an hour!! good thing I brought a friend over to chat and shoot with :)

    Now, you might have to do something called "Long Exposure Noise Reduction" If you shoot Nikon and are using a D3, D3x, or D700, I'd go so far as to say you can skip this if your exposure is under 45 minutes. Nikon's full frame bodies are flat-out incredible when it comes to amp noise. The Mt. Hood shot was 1 hour without LENR (long exposure noise reduction), and it's pretty dang clean.

    If you shoot Nikon and DON'T use a D3, D3x, or D700, then you MUST use LENR, otherwise, youre images will be riddled with noise and/or even worse, you'll get amp noise which looks like purple/magenta clouds in the sides and corners of the frame. My D70 was atrocious at this, anything over 2 minutes even at ISO 200 was completely worthless without it.

    LENR is great, except for one thing. The way it works is that it takes another exposure for the same length of time then subtracts the noise pattern from the exposed image. So, if you have a 20 minute exposure, you've got 20 minutes of LENR, meaning you need to wait 40 minutes to see if you got the picture right (or wrong). Bummer. Also, ambient temperature affects noise in long exposures, so when your camera is doing LENR, you need to make sure that you leave your camera alone so it can be in the same temperature as your exposure was, that way the subtraction will be as accurate as possible.


    So, as long as you're on a stable tripod, focused, composed correctly, using a cable release and are patient enough, you'll get awesome results from your digital camera. One great thing about digital is that reciprocity failure doesn't exist on it! If it did, you'd have to at least double your exposure! No way!

    Good luck, and happy shooting!!

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. cosmoepic

    cosmoepic TPF Noob!

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    incredible photos and great info can you do LENR with a nikon D40 im kinda new to using it
     

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