How do I take photos in pitch black?

The Taninator

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I recently bought my camera (Nikon D7000), and I always wanted to take pictures of the stars. However, I cannot figure out how to make the camera take the picture. I think that when the camera can't find the depth of view or something to focus on, then it won't take the picture. Therefore, when it is night out and I want to take a picture to capture the stars, the camera will not snap a photo.
I don't know if there is a setting in my camera that is not allowing that or if I to fool the camera to take a picture. I would really appreciate some help. Thank you.
 

Peeb

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You'll need to set your camera to manual (the 'M' setting) and turn off auto-focus and manually focus
 

KmH

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how to make astro photos using a DSLR
Light Pollution and Astronomy: How Dark Are Your Night Skies?
DarkSiteFinder.com - Light Pollution Map

The sky is never 'pitch black'.
If you're at a truly dark site seeing your camera/ tripod and any companions will be a challenge unless they are between you and the sky.
The number of stars that can be seen often make it hard for observers more used to rural or transition sites to recognize even the brightest constellations.

At a truly dark site, if it's shortly after sunset and the center of the Milky Way is up, both the Milky Way and the Zodiacal light will cause soft shadows.
 
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NancyMoranG

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Look in your manual. There is a way to make your camera ONLY take a photo IF it has focus on an object. So in the dark, the camera won't be able to focus, hence will not take photo.
You need to find that setting and change it. Again, look in the manual.
Welcome.
 

waday

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I'm thinking ....
I'll wait until (if) the OP comes back.
This was posted rather quickly... I don't think there's anything in the OP that would indicate this person is a troll. I read it from a perspective that the person is quite new to photography and their camera. Why be so quick to judge?
 

wfooshee

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Tripod, manual settings, fairly high ISO (1600 to start) and 15 to 30 seconds of shutter at widest aperture. Manually focus using Live View, and zoomed in on something, then switch back to the viewfinder once focus is set, and don't touch focus any more. Very low color temperature for white balance, probably mid to high 3000s Kelvin. If your lens is not wide enough field of view you may see streaking rather than points of light in the stars even at 15 seconds. Don't mistake that for focus issues. While in manual focus, I don't think the choice of focus priority or release priority has any effect.
 

KmH

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Look in your manual. There is a way to make your camera ONLY take a photo IF it has focus on an object. So in the dark, the camera won't be able to focus, hence will not take photo.
You need to find that setting and change it. Again, look in the manual.
Welcome.
Page 208 in the D7000 User's Manual.
I also recommend reviewing pages 91 to 100.

Yes. Focus priority is the shutter release default setting - the shutter will not release when the shutter button is fully pressed if auto focus has not yet been achieved when Focus Priority is in effect.
Changing to Release Priority is only necessary if you're still using auto focus, but the shutter can then be released even if focus has not been achieved.

Manual focus is always release priority and has no focus priority option.
 
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The Taninator

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You'll need to set your camera to manual (the 'M' setting) and turn off auto-focus and manually focus
Of course! I can't believe it's that simple. Thank you very much!
 
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The Taninator

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Tripod, manual settings, fairly high ISO (1600 to start) and 15 to 30 seconds of shutter at widest aperture. Manually focus using Live View, and zoomed in on something, then switch back to the viewfinder once focus is set, and don't touch focus any more. Very low color temperature for white balance, probably mid to high 3000s Kelvin. If your lens is not wide enough field of view you may see streaking rather than points of light in the stars even at 15 seconds. Don't mistake that for focus issues. While in manual focus, I don't think the choice of focus priority or release priority has any effect.
Thank you that will be very helpful!
 

AceCo55

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I'm thinking ....
I'll wait until (if) the OP comes back.
This was posted rather quickly... I don't think there's anything in the OP that would indicate this person is a troll. I read it from a perspective that the person is quite new to photography and their camera. Why be so quick to judge?

Yeah you are probably right - (first post and taking photo in "pitch black" raised my red flag)
Very happy the OP returned - turns out they were legit.
So my unconditional apologies to the OP.
Just being a grumpy old man I think. Put me down as the Xmas Grinch who has learned a lesson.

To the OP, here are a couple of resources to get you going on the basics:
How To Photograph The Stars: A Beginner's Guide
Star photography for beginners |
Beginners Tips for Night Sky and Star Photography
 
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dannylightning

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change the AF-C in the focus menu.. in AF-S the camera will not take a photo unless it has focused. in AF-C mode it will take the photo but if it does not focus you have a bad photo. if you cant get it to focus you may actually need to use manual focus when its too dark for the camera to see anything. if you have the focus point right on a star i would imagine it would be able to focus, but i could be wrong.

when shooting starts you do not want a long really long shutter speed unless you want to see star trails, a 20 or 30 second exposure seems to produce star trails from what i have seen. so shutter speed is something you will need to play with. i have not done stars much but i have a few times.

if you do a google search on how to photograph stars you may find some settings other people are using or a good how to tutorial on it and give that a try..
 

KmH

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In the D7000's Custom Settings menu a1, AF-C can put configured for Focus Priority or for Release Priority.
 

petrochemist

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when shooting starts you do not want a long really long shutter speed unless you want to see star trails, a 20 or 30 second exposure seems to produce star trails from what i have seen. so shutter speed is something you will need to play with. i have not done stars much but i have a few times.

The length of time you can get away with with out noticeable star trails is highly dependent on focal length, 20s with a telephoto will definitely show them.
There is a guide 'rule' for prevent star trails. Keep exposures below 500/focal length (some sources put it at 600/FL).
As with most such rules it was originally from 35mm film days so it's the full frame equivalent focal length that matters. With a 10mm 50s should be OK (you'll probably have some extra leeway with that though as a 100 full frame would probably be a fish-eye)
 

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"How do I take photos in pitch black?"
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You turn on the lights!
:bouncingsmileys:
admit it....every one of you wanted to say that ;)
 

petrochemist

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"How do I take photos in pitch black?"
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You turn on the lights!
:bouncingsmileys:
admit it....every one of you wanted to say that ;)

No, I was tempted to say I'd use my IR converted camera, with a IR filter over the flash., but the truth is there is a slight leakage of red light noticeable if you're looking towards the flash so it's not truely pitch black.
 

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