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5 must knows for better night photos

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 5:55 AM

ISO

go to www.dxomark.com/index.php/Came…

Find your camera and see what iso settings you can push your camera to and still retain descent image quality, this is especially important when shooting auroras, a high iso sensitivity means you can push the shutterspeed under the magical 8 seconds to retain some of the movement of the aurora in the image.
(I personally recommend 6 or less)


Preventing STAR TRAILS
Use the rule of 600 to keep stars in the picture from trailing/streaking.
Divide 600 by the true focal lenght of your lens, true is measured by 35mm full frame, so a 30 mm full frame lens would yield this simple equation: 600/30 = 20 second (or less) exposure and stars will look nice.
For cropped sensors you have to time your focal length with 1.5 for Nikon and 1.6 for Canon.
So 16 mm wide angle lens on a Canon cropped sensor would equal 25.6mm true focal lengt (16*1.6) giving this equation: 600/25.6 = 23.43 seconds or less to prevent startrails.
(ps: superwide and ultrawide lenses will show startrails faster on the edges, so divide 450-500 instead of 600 for best results)



A Tripod and remote shutter
In low light situations handholding goes out the window and you need someting to keep the camera still, and everytime you click that shutter and remove your hand you induce a little bit of vibration in the camera, so for optimal sharpness I recommend a remote shutter.
Tripod gets a bump in price as soon as you get over to carbon fiber, but you can get great aluminum and even wooden tripods for much less, and a fast look on ebay will give you 3rd party remote shutter as low as a 10th of the price of branded ones.
But you can workaround both if you are on a low budget.
A towel to lay your camera on, a book to elevate the lens and a surface like for instance a rock and you have your custom "tripod", and if you use the self timer on the camera your hand will be away long before the shutter goes off.


Focus and test shots
Getting focus at night can be very easy, find the brightest star turn the focus ring until it becomes sharp, go over until it blurs just a bit, then back again until it is sharp.
This technique will make sure you get the sky in focus, be careful though as you will be at the further end of the scale and if you have something in the foreground close it might get quite soft.
Another way is to use the infinity mark on the lens, but keep in mind that those are often guidelines and not set in stone, for instance on my 14-24mm F2.8 lens, having it on the infinity mark gives slightly soft images, I have to keep it just a touch under.
When you think you have gotten the focus right do a highly overexposed image so the ground is clearly visible, check the shot and zoom in to see if it is sharp, if it is you are all set, if not repeat the focus process.
If you want to have foreground sharp and background acceptably sharp you have to resort to hyperfocal distance ( from wikipedia: The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp).
It is some math behind this but for simplicity there are numerous apps that does that for you, all you enter in is your F-stop and Focal range and it calculates for you where you should move your focus.(ex: "DOF Calculator", "Hyperfocal Distance" a search will lead to more)


Preserve your night vision
It takes time for your eyes to adjust to darkness and nothing kills that faster than a big ass white torch of a flashlight, and for the previous step being able to see the stars through the viewfinder a good astronomy flashlight will go a long way.
Red light will hurt your nightvision the least, and flashlights like the Rigel Starlite Red Flashlight and the Orion 5756 DualBeam LED Astronomy Flashlight will help you preserve nightvision better, both have adjustable brightness settings the orion also has 2 white LEDs for when you need to pick stuff of the ground and such.
And also your photography friends will thank you for not blinding them when out shooting at night. :D


Stay cool :)
:woohoo:

Add a Comment:
 
:iconmistafocus:
mistafocus Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Great tips there! 

Do you have any for shooting an object in low light conditions...ie. shooting a car under streetlight/carpark light?
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:iconsharkharrington:
SharkHarrington Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013   Photographer
I'd like to experiment more with night photography in the coming year.  I'll just stash this tutorial in my favorites folder.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional Photographer
Night photography is so rewarding, you get to gaze upon the stars and you get to bring how a few memories of it. :)
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:iconnyelfox:
nyelfox Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks so much this was awsome! I'm waiting for my camera to arrive so I can start practicing with photography, mean while I'm trying to learn as much as I can, your tips are definitely helping a lot!
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
My pleasure, glad you find this helpful. :)
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:iconphotographsbybri:
PhotographsByBri Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Those are great tips and you can be sure that I will be using them in the future.. one question... What if I have a 55-200 mm zoom lens with a 52 mm wideangel.. my camera is a NikonD3000 and I prefer to shoot in manual for night photo's?
I do have a tripod but no remote shutter. :(
I don't think my camera is capable of shooting the milky way.. just the small specks of stars. :( Lightning it does alright, northern lights it will do good as long as i remember my darn tripod.
But great tips and thank you so much for sharing your wonderful knowledge.
Reply
:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
With a 52 mm lens on a dx camera you are stuck at a max of 7.6 seconds, the d3000 does not have the best iso performance either, but you can try at 1600 iso and 6 seconds and see how far you can push it in post.'
There is another solution and that is stacking photos, for instance with deepskystacker, but that is a whole different process and very time consuming.

Since you do not have a tripod you can always use the self-timer on the camera, it works great. :)
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:iconphotographsbybri:
PhotographsByBri Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013
No I have a tripod but not the remote shutter.
But yeah I have noticed that the iso is not the best and I think it's time to invest in a new camera.. updated nikon. :D
Still once I do, I will then try and take star photography and use your tips. :D
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
Well a tripod more important than a remote shutter, a remote shutter is for that little extra bit :D
The thing about skychasing and nightphotography is that it is real easy to get hooked on it :)
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:iconphotographsbybri:
PhotographsByBri Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013
Oh yes that's for sure, I'm very hooked on it now.. never really tried it all that much before unless the northern lights where out but I was always unsuccessful in capturing those.. at least not in good enough quality.
Now that I know more then i did then and am trying it again, things are coming out a lot better and I can't seem to stop, makes the day photography seem mediocre. :( But still.. it's very fun!!
The longest exposure I can get is 5 seconds I think. But yeah a updated camera will help.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
Practice makes perfect, I am still finetuning my aurora photography and I have taken thousands upon thousands of those, it is always minor things, and it comes together slowly.
5 seconds is very good, and you get very nice aurora movement with that shutter speed.
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:iconphotographsbybri:
PhotographsByBri Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013
Yes that's for sure, practice, practice, practice. Seems you can never have enough of it and can always learn something new as long as your open to learning and you have imagination, the sky is the limit. :)
I'd like to think that we all have a certain type or types of photography we are all good at, I'd also like to think that night photography is one of mine but as of now I know I'm not there yet.
My recent photo's:    just a couple anyways.. so potential?
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
Absolutely, you are def on the right track here, it is easy to see the limitations of the camera, but still these are good.
One tip you might try for that dancer image is to move even more to create that dancing motion, since it will be blurry anyways, why not push it even more. :)
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(1 Reply)
:iconjelle-lightart:
Jelle-LightArt Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013   Photographer
Good basic tips. What about 'exposure delay mode'?
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional Photographer
Yeah that and Mirror up mode works great for such, but often during nightshots the exposure is so long that it matters less, it matters more not having your hand touching the shutter button, you can of course do both, use a remote shutter and Exposure delay/mirror up to get the absolute sharpest image, if you want to add even more to this you can use a black cardboard and hold it infront of the lens to stop light from coming in during the minor minor delay at the start.

Combining all this yields the sharpest possible image for your settings, you can of course go further, set your lens to its sharpest F-stop which is usualy 2 stops above wide open, for instance 14-24mm f2.8 for nikon its very sharpest results comes at f5.6.

And even more, you can weigh down your tripod, remove any close grass that might sway in the wind, tape up your remote shutter wire and so on and so on.

I just kept it short and simple, cause sharpness is a category you can work on a lot.
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:iconjelle-lightart:
Jelle-LightArt Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013   Photographer
:D great answer. But yes a lot of options to get the best result.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional Photographer
It is more the fact of keeping it more brief, in my experience if you overexplain something and add a lot extra stuff it generally goes in the one ear and out the other so to speak, so I keep in more general :)
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:iconmatthewreed:
MatthewReed Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Do you post many tutorials?
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional Photographer
I have a few in my journals, but not something I do that much really, more when I have the time I write a little.
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:iconmatthewreed:
MatthewReed Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Okay.
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:iconciacoagain:
CiacoAgain Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Very interesting.  The sensor in my M43 Olympus is smaller than an APS-C  so noise is a consideration but I might get serious about night shooting.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional Photographer
Yeah, sensor size is a big factor for night photography, you can still take good night photos with that camera, but it certainly has its limitations.
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:iconciacoagain:
CiacoAgain Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Yes its a trade off I wanted a smaller camera that I could carry more easily.. Since this is a hobby for me I'm more concerned with composition..But I have to say the images from a full frame camera can be stunning.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional Photographer
i agree with the hobby part, I think that if you reach the point where you sit at home and just can´t wait to go out to take some pictures regardless of the condition not being optimal, then I think it is time to concider a camera that will let you fully utilize your photographic vision and creativity and a full frame will be a really good choice for it.
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:iconciacoagain:
CiacoAgain Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Right now I am happy with what I have it's such a huge jump up from what I was using...But there may come a day where I make a change. I know the latest Oly M43 has a two EV advantage over mine. I really enjoy the compact size of the M43 format. Plus they have some really amazing prime lenses.
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
If you like that smaller size I would rather recommend you the Nikon D5200, it has great low light performance, high dynamic range and good color depth and it is very cheap for its performance.
If you want to go to the smaller size the sony Nex series is pretty sick, it does push up to 1000+ iso performance which is quite good.
It all depends on what leap you want to make, if you want to go all the way then a full frame camera like the D600 is a really good purchase, but lens quality will be a major factor for better cameras.
If you are content with what you have then just try make the most of it, go out and have fun taking pictures. :)
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:iconciacoagain:
CiacoAgain Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013
Yes I am going to stick with my Olympus. It's been a good friend to me and I love the Olympus colors plus I am starting to learn how to use it so there is a certain comfort level..
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:icontrichardsen:
Trichardsen Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Professional Photographer
Yeah, when you are comfy with a camera, it is easy to acces setting in a flash and adjust without really looking much, and you learn to push the limitation of the camera when you know it better. :)
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