Capturing The Beauty Of Starry Skies

One of the biggest challenges that photographers face is trying to really capture the beauty of the universe in the way it truly deserves. While this can be very tricky, there are luckily some excellent ways to do it. 

Capturing The Beauty Of Starry Skies

But how exactly can you capture the beauty of starry skies? Well, we’ve got this covered for you. We’ve written this handy guide that shows you everything you need to know about capturing the beauty of starry skies.

So, if you’re ready to learn more – then read on for all the answers! 

1. Autofocus Vs Manual Focus

Generally speaking, the mechanisms of autofocus rely solely on contrast and defined, sharp edges so it can work properly. When the conditions are dark – many camera sensors struggle to detect the elements that daytime photography would not face.

So, one of the most important and helpful tips when it comes to capturing the beauty of starry skies is to shift your camera into manual focus and increase the ISO so your camera can actually see the stars. 

Once this has happened, you can then adjust the focus through trial and error in order to get the desired effect. 

The ISO figure will largely depend on the environment and your camera equipment, so you will need to be aware of this before you get started. 

2. Get A Solid Tripod 

Any photographer who has ever tried to capture the beauty of the stars will know that long exposure imagery in the dark can be difficult, especially when movement occurs out of your control (often through strong winds). 

This is because vibrations can knock your camera and make the image blurry. This is why it’s so important to get yourself a solid tripod (bear in mind that this could mean getting a heavy tripod!). 

As a result, shutter shock and windy conditions should not be so much of a problem. You may also want to bring with you a manual remote which can seriously help with vibrations caused by shutter shock.

If you do not have a manual remote though, you could opt to set the shutter speed for a little longer, such as around 5 to 10 seconds. However, you might find you are still getting blurry images – despite how lightly you have pushed the shutter button.

It’s also worth noting here that some cameras even have Wi-Fi connectivity which allows you to connect your camera to your smartphone or tablet. This can make finding the focus a whole lot easier and it should help with the vibration recovery time (with a strong tripod!). 

3. The Camera Lenses 

A common question when it comes to photographing the night sky is what the best camera lenses are – and this is typically the brightest with the largest aperture. Ideally, you’re hoping for f/2.8 or at least as close as possible.

However, it’s important to remember that many modern and most advanced cameras allow you to use a darker f/4 or even f/5 when you boost your ISO. 

If you do not have the most modern lenses which can cope with the conditions you will be dealing with, you might want to turn your attention to 12mm to 35mm lenses, assuming you have a full frame sensor.

It’s worth pointing out that there are some apps and other online resources that can help you get the right balance here. As this section is largely dependent on your equipment and the conditions, it’s pretty difficult to provide a “one size fits all” answer.

4. Get A Dark Sky 

One of the most important things when it comes to truly capturing the beauty of starry skies is ensuring the right conditions. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the chances are that you will struggle with a lot of light pollution.

Indeed, you will likely find light pollution is a problem in a lot of rural areas as well, however it is usually much less problematic with only a few cell phone towers and alike.

Of course, you could try to find the best possible place on your own by traveling around – but this can prove to be costly and very time consuming. There are, however, some online resources and apps to help with this problem too.

Some of which can help you to pinpoint very good areas for night photography, so it’s definitely worth thinking about to ensure the best successes.

5. Research The Weather 

Now, while this may sound a little odd to begin with, it’s very important to do this. Not only can poor weather conditions affect how well your photographs will come out, but the best conditions will make your life a whole lot easier here.

Not only this, but it’s always a good idea to know if you need to bring with you warm clothing or protective equipment for your camera and other items. 

Speaking of clothing – it’s also a good idea to know your surroundings for things like wildlife. If you’re going to head out to very isolated areas like the desert for example, you will need to be careful with things like bugs and scorpions! 

6. Avoid Going Alone 

It’s always good to take someone along with you when you’re going to photograph the starry skies. When all is said and done, you’re going to be out in the darkness and it’s always 

handy to have someone with you to help you watch over your equipment.

Not only this, but having that extra pair of hands with you can be very useful if you need them to do something for you while you’re getting close to capturing the most amazing imagery.

7. Location Is Key 

We’ve briefly mentioned how your location will make a huge difference with things like light pollution, but when it comes to capturing the very best that the night sky has to offer, you should certainly pay attention to the location! 

For example, capturing the effects of Aurora Borealis can be tricky in some places, so you will likely want to travel to places like Norway where, not only is light pollution less abundant, but it’s geographically much better to capture. 

Of course though, it’s not just the Northern Lights that your location is important. Many photographers actually create their own travel plans and venture hundreds of miles to capture the perfect image of the starry skies. 

8. Research The Stars 

One of the best pieces of advice that budding photographers of the night skies can have is to have a little knowledge of the stars before they begin. Having a little background knowledge of what you are hoping to capture is always going to be advised. 

We’re not saying you need to have extensive knowledge of astronomy to be able to get the best out of your photography, but the more you know about it will always be beneficial. 

9. Plan Your Shot

Planning is something that many photographers often overlook, and this is especially true when it comes to capturing the night sky. We recommend scouting out the area you are hoping to photograph during the daytime first.

This will help you work out what the foreground will look like and if there is anything obvious that could potentially block your view. Not only this, but heading to the location during the daytime will help you remember where the buttons on your camera are prior to darkness!

Memory of this is very important because you do not want any additional lights near you when you’re going to capture the stars, so being familiar with your camera is critical.

10. Remain Patient And Keep Trying! 

Above all else, it’s important that you remain patient and always keep trying to get the best out of your camera work by repeating the process until you get it right. It’s worth knowing that you likely will not get it correct right away, so expect some errors initially.

But, while you likely will encounter errors upon the first few times you head out there to capture the starry skies – it’s always critical to remain calm and patient, learning from any of your mistakes and working towards a solution for next time. 

Final Thoughts 

And that’s everything you need to know about capturing the beauty of the starry skies! We hope we’ve explained all you needed to know. Good luck with your photography!

Frequently Asked Questions 

We will now go through your most frequently asked questions. Hopefully we cover everything you were hoping for.

Can I Photograph When Light Pollution Is High?

You can – but it will prove to be very tricky. Therefore, it’s always worth researching before you head out to your proposed location.

Should I Go Alone When Shooting At Night?

It’s always going to be advised that you go with someone, but if you must go alone – be sure to have some emergency contact device. 

Where’s The Best Place For Starry Skies?

This would be a list on its own, but some of the best places include Oslo, Nevada and the Scottish Highlands.

Laura McNeill
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