Shooting The Night Sky

The night sky. It is a subject that has eluded me to photograph, not from the lack of trying.

Deana - 1991 - B&W
Deana – 1991 – B&W (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

The problem is from the lack of knowledge of technique and equipment.

My journey down the load of photographing at night start not long after my father taught me to use his Pentax Spotmatic. He should me what the f/stop did, what depth of field meant and how to adjust the shutter speed. He covered ASA ratings of film and which to use when. He talked about knowing what you want to photograph and how to think about the adjustments you wanted to make.

I did black and white still-life’s. I did color photos. I took pictures of everything. I photographed roads and leaves, covered bridges and dogs. Nothing was out of the question. I went through lots of film.

One night, I had an idea. I remembered my father had cables releases and they looked. I did some experiments with multiple minute exposures out my brother’s bedroom window to the snow covered streets outside. It was night and the street lights were on. They turned out not bad for a 14 year old. My interest starts.

As time went on, I eventually obtained a Nikon D80 and a good tripod. Several times I tried to take pics in my backyard. Not too many stars are visible thanks to the high levels of light pollution around Cincinnati. I tried a telephoto lens. I aimed at the moon. I did 10 second exposures. I did 20 seconds. I did bulb with a remote, closing the shutter when I wanted.

Results were mixed. Stars where blurry, so was the moon. Did the tripod slowly move? I use the same one for landscape photography and don’t see movement. Could it be the Earth that is moving?

On the evening of the 17th of July, 2012, I was in Moab, Utah. North of Moab is Arches National Park. It is open at night. Surely there are many stars visible there. My wife and I visited.

Having flown to Utah, a tripod was not available. The car roof and my camera strap is all I had. I took 20 and 30 second exposures. I move the ISO up and down. Sometimes, a car drove my and light up the rocks. The results were not bad.

When it comes to photography, I know what I know and I know what I know not. Night and star photography I don’t really know. Here are some of my results and I need some help. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions. Others can be seen in my Flickr photostream.

Arches National Park at Night #1
Arches National Park at Night #1 (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)
Arches National Park at Night #2
Arches National Park at Night #2 (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)
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