person under delicate arch at night
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are seeing on social media many great photos of the night sky, including the Milky Way. And I think we will see many more of these type of photos due to the recent improvement in cameras and the ISO settings getting so high, and their ability to take photos at night. Pentax K3 Mark III recently released a camera that is capable of shooting at an ISO off 1,600,000 makes night photography exciting. But, there are certainly steps you need to make to get night photography to happen correctly.

51 different subjects in photography, and we are doing them all. This subject is on “night Photography”, just one of the many subjects. Look back on past blogs to see what subjects have been done.
snow covered mountain
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Let’s take a look at what we need to make night photography work for you:

1- The shutter on your camera will be open for a period of time, that should require a camera tripod. If you do not use a camera tripod, your photos will be blurry. Period. Doesn’t matter if you are using a cell phone for your camera, if it has to see the dark night, your camera will open the shutter for a period of time, and you just won’t be able to hold the camera still enough. If you are a cell phone photographer, they do make a tripod for cell phones that is not a lot of money. I have a tripod for cell phone, and use it a lot. In fact, here is one of my night photos taken with my cell phone:

Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography. Notice how the street lights are able to light up the surrounding area, giving it all a unique feeling to the picture.

2- But for night sky shooting, let’s give you a point to start with. Nikon USA recommends the following:

  • A good starting exposure for most star shots is to use the widest aperture on your lens, expose for 20 seconds, increasing the ISO as needed for a good exposure.
tall palm trees under purple sky
Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

Most of the time, when you shoot with your cell phone camera, your moon will hardly be noticed, similar to the photo above. In order to get a moon shot that looks like this:

woman holding a moon
Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

Or, even to get detail on the moon:

waxing moon shining in cloudy sky
Photo by David Selbert on Pexels.com

Here is what you need to do:

To get a great Moon shot and little else, set your camera to ISO 100 or ISO 200 and the aperture to between f/5.6 and f/11, and adjust your shutter speed to between 1/125sec and 1/250sec.

Next, if you want to see the moon, like the bottom picture, it will require a telephoto lens. Most cameras have a wide angle lens in them, which actually pushes the image of the moon back further than what you see. They even make telephoto lenses for cell phone so there is no reason anymore to not get a good photo of the moon.

Here is another way to look at this photo idea: If you will realize that the moon is lit by the sun. It is nothing more than a big rock, that’s round, sitting in the sunlight. So, what would be your exposure during the daytime of the earth when it is in sunshine? Usually ISO 100 at F8 or F11, and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. Bingo, you will have a perfect exposure of the moon.

The reason it is hard to get a good exposure with an automatic camera, or a cell phone camera is that the light meter that is built in, sees so much dark area around the moon, and tries to expose for both, thus giving a bad exposure. That is why doing it with a manual camera in manual mode, you can easily get a good exposure of the moon.

Just a reminder: When you click on any of the words in RED, you will be automatically linked to see that product, so you can get an idea of what they cost, and a description of how they work. If you want to purchase them, you can certainly do that, by completing the “purchase” information.

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

One more point that needs to be made about taking photos of the night sky:

  • You cannot get these type of photos while still in the city. The lights from the city will block the ability to get the sky dark enough to see all the stars. All good night photographers, will go far away out of the city to get their best night photos. Absolutely you want to get away from any interference from light that will destroy your night photos.

I hope you enjoy taking photos at night time. Please remember that to get the same results as you are seeing in the post today, you will need to follow these directions closely. Your automatic camera just may not cut it for you. A manual camera will get you what you want.

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