Jump to content

Welcome to NikonForums.com
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!
Photo

Tips for outdoor night sky photography


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1
meulsinas83

meulsinas83

    New Member

  • Forum Member
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Country Flag

Hey! I’m going on a camping trip in a few weeks and really wanted to get some great photos of the moon / stars. I’m still fairly new and not confident in my camera settings for night photography. I wanted to ask the best settings for to consider when shooting some photos for the trip

Currently using a Nikon D3300 and have a 11-20 tokina lens with a tripod

Thanks .



#2
krag96

krag96

    Forum Veteran

  • Forum Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 505 posts
  • Country Flag

I shoot FX so the rules are a bit different, but you should do okay with that lens and a little experimenting for Milky Way and star shots. You should get a star guide with a seasonal dial to find what you're looking for.  Look North this time of year to find the best clusters. 

 

For stars your Tokina should be set on it's lowest focal length setting, 11mm and be mounted on a tripod.  Shoot with your lens wide open and the best focus you can get, (at or near infinity).  Either use a remote shutter release or use the cameras 2 second delay timer. You can either use the Bulb setting or 15-20-25-30 second settings, no longer than 30 seconds or you'll get star trails, (maybe shorter with DX format, they'll look oblong and smear).  Some people shoot star trails on purpose with very long exposures  and like the effect, a matter of taste I guess.  Start with an ISO setting around 1,000 and work your way up to around 2,200 or so looking at your images with each shot until you find what works best with your format.  Finally the darker the better, little or no moon light or light pollution.  If there's a pleasant foreground you would like to add to the photo you can light paint it with a flashlight while waiting for your exposure.  Aim the flashlight at the foreground and wave it around ''painting'' the entire object for several seconds, (try 7-10 seconds).  FX and DX use different settings to achieve the same results here, I've given you FX format information here, but with some playing around you should get some good results with your DX camera.  

 

Now, the moon.  You won't need a tripod for this, and ignore your light meter, the moon is a bright object surrounded by darkness so metering does more harm than good. Best results are with a 300mm+ lens, your 11-20mm is nearly useless for any detail, (all you'll get is a tiny bright dot in the middle of a dark background).  With at least a 200mm lens, shoot at f11-f16, shutter speed around 1/800 and ISO matching your lens speed or close to it, (use manual focus to get a clean shot).  That's a good place to start with room for experimenting on your own, and clouds passing by can have an effect on your results.  FX/DX doesn't matter as much here.



#3
krag96

krag96

    Forum Veteran

  • Forum Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 505 posts
  • Country Flag

A few moon shots taken with a Nikon D700 and old 75-300mm Nikkor lens.  Match your ISO and shutter speed closely and choose a mid-high f stop in the teens.

 

ISO800  1/750sec.  f19  Nikon D-700

n8JeDc8.jpg?1

 

ISO 560  1/750sec.  f16

KkBMK2F.jpg?1

 

ISO 560  1/500sec  f16  (different night)

 

iDXS14F.jpg?1

 

 

 

Here's some star shot with the same D-700 using a Nikkor 20-35mm D lens at 20mm f2.8 ISO 1,600 20 sec. exposure from a tripod using a remote release.  The tree top has been light painted for effect.

 

3LcUu0Y.jpg

 

 

Same view, same night without light painting and a longer exposure, (25 maybe 30 seconds, I like the shorter exposure of the first image better, you have to play around with it and see what works best).

 

4L8mQ3u.jpg

 

Your mileage will vary with a DX camera on stars.  I think you will have shorter exposure times, check on youtube for some tutorials.  The moon should be about the same, but stars will differ between DX and FX formats. 



#4
Hamiltonblue

Hamiltonblue

    Junior Member

  • Forum Member
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts
  • Country Flag

Good reading here and great place to start.

Use these settings and adjust up and down slightly as necessary.

Looney 11 rule - Wikipedia

Good Luck and Have fun.



#5
davidguest

davidguest

    New Member

  • Forum Member
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Country Flag
  • LocationChicago

A few moon shots taken with a Nikon D700 and old 75-300mm Nikkor lens.  Match your ISO and shutter speed closely and choose a mid-high f stop in the teens.

 

ISO800  1/750sec.  f19  Nikon D-700

n8JeDc8.jpg?1

 

ISO 560  1/750sec.  f16

KkBMK2F.jpg?1

 

ISO 560  1/500sec  f16  (different night)

 

iDXS14F.jpg?1

 

 

 

Here's some star shot with the same D-700 using a Nikkor 20-35mm D lens at 20mm f2.8 ISO 1,600 20 sec. exposure from a tripod using a remote release.  The tree top has been light painted for effect.

 

3LcUu0Y.jpg

 

 

Same view, same night without light painting and a longer exposure, (25 maybe 30 seconds, I like the shorter exposure of the first image better, you have to play around with it and see what works best).

 

4L8mQ3u.jpg

 

Your mileage will vary with a DX camera on stars.  I think you will have shorter exposure times, check on youtube for some tutorials.  The moon should be about the same, but stars will differ between DX and FX formats. 

 

 

Wow, it's amazing! 



#6
krag96

krag96

    Forum Veteran

  • Forum Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 505 posts
  • Country Flag

Wow, it's amazing! 

The moon is pretty easy to photograph with the quick technique I mentioned above, a camera, a decent 200mm+ lens, a decent night with a moon of course, and the rest is mostly simply fun experimenting.  Now, to get a good moon along with an interesting foreground usually takes 2 good shots, one moon, and another photo of your foreground which allows you to size your moon to any size and put it in the foreground photo, for this type of ''magic'' you would need a site like, Affinity Photo, ($50.00 for a life time license). 

 

For good Milky Way shots, a tripod is needed as well as a remote shutter release, or the camera's own timer, a wide angle lens, usually a higher ISO, (800-3200 can work well) and exposures between 15 and 20 or more seconds, (a star map and guide are helpful also).  Exposures close to, or over 30 seconds require a equatorial tracker to avoid star trails and blurred stars.  Find your focus point, ISO, and a shutter speed, (I shoot between f 2.8 and f4 for Milky Way) choose a shutter speed, 15 seconds is good start, press the shutter release and let the camera do it's job, advance another 5 seconds, take another shot, another 5 seconds and another shot.  Just general guidelines, no hard rules.

 

jngQ9Nm.jpg

 

fuBTOUx.jpg

 

mxYNxAo.jpg