I have just got back from my holiday. I am struggling to adjust to the colder UK weather after 35°C heat we had in France. Where is stay is in the middle of the countryside and, apart from being very sunny in the day, has little light pollution at night. This makes for some stunning stargazing. On clear nights you can see the Milky Way and look all the way into the centre of our galaxy. It is really breathtaking.
On the second photo I managed to capture the big dipper that was nice and clear that night. It does seem to stand out against the background of other stars. You also get a sense of how fast our planet moves. My shutter speeds were only 10 to 30 seconds long but the stars are already starting to streak across the photo as the Earth spins around.
Next time I go back I will make an effort to stay up later to take photos of the Milky Way and not be a lightweight going to bed early.
If you want to give night-time photography ago I have some tips that will help you get started. With winter coming in the UK the nights are drawing in and can be clear (and cold, bbbbrrrr) so there should be some stunning photos to be captured.
Night time photography tips
01. Plan your composition before it gets dark – It becomes surprisingly difficult to compose an image and even to get the horizon straight, especially if you are on uneven ground like I was. Before it gets dark look to see what you want in your image and even set up your camera before it gets dark so you can see what you are doing.
02. Use a tripod – To be able to record any kind of image you need to use shutter speeds from 1 second up to 30 seconds. This is too long to hand hold so you will need a rock solid tripod. Make sure it is set up securely the slightest movement will result in blurry images.
03. Remote shutter release – Again you want to reduce the chances that you camera might move when the shutter is open and even pressing the shutter release button can cause camera shake. Use a remote shutter or the camera’s in-built timer to release the shutter. Oh and don’t touch the camera again until the shutter is closed.
04. Use mirror lock – Check you camera settings and use the mirror lock to keep the mirror from moving. The mirror moving out the way of the shutter can cause camera shake and as you spent all that time setting up your tripod and shutter release you don’t want the mirror causing blur. If you use a micro 4/3rds camera (which I did for these photos) turn off the screen. The light from it will ruin your night vision. With shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds you might as well enjoy the sky while you wait.
05. Use mid range aperture settings – Use mid range aperture settings between f8 and f16. No camera lens will provide the sharpest image at the minimum or maximum aperture so increase your chances of getting a good image by using a mid range aperture.
Are you planning some starry photographs?