When the stars exploded billions of years ago they formed everything that is this world. Everything we know is stardust. So don’t forget, you are stardust.
– Before Sunset (1995)
Leaving a long exposure while pointing at the night sky results in circular patterns in the frame. It’s slightly surreal, but I like it.
This is my first attempt at trying to take pictures of the stars. A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have even tried, but there was a reverse panning assignment for my class this week.
I don’t thing that this type of photography is meant for me, but I’m glad I gave it a try. I like the instant satisfaction generally associated with photography. This picture took a lot of time and patience. And battery life.
This would have worked better in a rural area, away from the city lights, rather than my backyard. Also, there was a half moon, which didn’t help.
Obviously, this works best on a clear night.
Here’s what I did:
– Charge the battery (it really does suck up the battery life)
– Set up the tripod. I extended the front two legs and left the back leg shorter. I kept it fairly low to the ground and tilted the head up.
– I cranked my ISO to 6400 and set the shutter speed to about 10 seconds to get a test shot. It’s hard to figure out what is in and out of the frame while it’s dark. A test shot lets you adjust your position before committing to a really long shutter speed. This was a great tip from my instructor.
– Set the shutter speed to BULB. Bulb lets you release the shutter with a remote and keeps it open until you press the remote again. (I bought my remote on Amazon for $6).
– Set the ISO to 100. This reduces the digital noise.
– I set my aperture to f/16. I don’t know if that’s right, but it’s what I did.
– Use a wide focal length. The best I could do was my kit lens (18 mm). Set the focus to infinity, and then back off just a bit.
– Take a guess about the location of the North Star and point your camera accordingly. I missed a bit. If you do manage to get it bang on, the stars will form a circle around this point.
– Keep a stationary object in the frame, like a tree. Find one in the distance or it will just look out of focus. I think it provides a bit of context.
– Commit to a long exposure, whatever that might be. Mine was 1024 seconds. Why? That’s when I went back outside to turn it off. The longer your exposure, the longer the trail.
– Use your remote to close the shutter.
– Charge your battery when you’re done.