Have you seen the Northern lights in the night sky? They are so pretty and mesmerizing to look at! But capturing their beauty in its full form would be difficult.
Therefore, in this article, I will discuss the best way to click the night sky photographs.
However, night sky photography is a skill in itself.
Don’t worry because I will talk about everything related to night sky photography, starting from the tools needed for the shoot and whether you can use smartphones or not. Keep reading!
Which Equipment is Needed for Night Photography?
Here I am sharing crucial equipment that you need to capture the best shots;
1. Buy the Most Appropriate Camera
Buying the right camera is the first essential factor in night photography. However, consider some points while buying the camera, which are:
- A camera that can click RAW captures is the essential feature as you will click the most amazing pictures and even keep disturbances to a minimum.
- Manual controls are available in the camera, such as manual focus and exposure.
- It has a feature known as Bulb mode that can capture photos in ultra-long exposures.
- A camera that can click pictures in low lights, i.e., under ISO 1600. Some examples are DxOMark and DPReview.
2. Extra Batteries
Batteries come in handy every time you’re away from any charging point. Imagine going on a shoot, and it takes you 10 hours to shoot the best pictures, and your camera dies due to a lack of battery.
Having extra batteries is, without question, the most basic tool you should have while clicking photos with cameras.
3. A Tripod Stand
A tripod is probably the most crucial piece of equipment for shooting at night since you need a stable camera at all times.
Carrying the camera yourself and clicking the picture will not get desired results you wish to see. Therefore, just invest in a good tripod stand to click the best photographs without any extra hassle.
4. Extra Light Source
Flashlights are the most versatile and useful tool when it comes to doing anything at night. Be it for camping, or even clicking photographs at night, they are so useful.
You can use them to create a different kind of ambience or just focus them on the subject you are trying to focus on. Get creative with a flashlight and see the amazing photos you can click.
However, you must know how to adjust the ISO, Aperture, shutter speed, and shooting mode.
5. Lens Hood
The name pretty much suggests its function! The hood protects the lens from UV rays and the inevitable risk of falling and breaking.
A lens hood blocks any kind of harsh light flare that may disturb the photo shoot of the night sky.
However, a lens hood comes so handy when you’re about to shoot at night since it blocks any kind of light coming on the camera. You can carry the lens hood whenever going for a night sky shoot.
If you think it is too inconvenient, you can just attach it to the lens in a reverse position.
6. Remote Shutter Release
Using a remote shutter release button, you can click a picture without actually touching the button on the camera lens. If you buy the basic model, you can get a reasonable remote shutter release button.
Remote buttons are the best if you need to click at 1/80s shutter speed, which would be great since the photo could blur as a result if you touch the camera.
7. Coloured Light Sources
Colored lightings are very useful for night sky photography.
You can apply the gel on the fill lights to get some color as a part of the photograph.
You can even use glow sticks which can be used as a lighting source or to draw lines and shapes in the air. Move the stick during the exposure to capture whatever you tried drawing.
8. Neutral Density Filters
Neutral density filters are beneficial for such situations only.
The filters allow you to have a long exposure photo shoot along with filters of different strengths and conditions, such as a 3-stop and 10-stop density filter.
These filters stop the lights in the surrounding from ruining your photograph.
Best Camera Settings for Night Sky Photography
How Do You Take Night Shots with DSLR?
Following are the steps to taking night shots with a DSLR:
- Set up your camera in Manual Mode.
- Keep the shutter speed to 30-60 seconds. If the photos have a lot of light, decrease the shutter time, whereas if they come out too dark, then increase the time.
- Set the Aperture to f8, f16, or even f11, giving the photo a sharpness. The shutter speed allows the brightness or darkness in the picture with Apertures such as f16 (for darker effect) and f8 (for lighter effect).
- Adjust the ISO to 100 or 200 so that the camera can reduce the noise in the picture. Less ISO will give a dull effect, whereas A higher ISO will give a bright and cheerful image.
- White Balance is essential for a good and balanced picture as it gives a balanced color theme to the picture without ruining its quality or color scheme, but the chances of having a mixed-up color scheme can ruin the photograph.
- Always shoot the pictures in RAW mode. Raw pictures will allow so much to cope with high-end, professional-like editing, which can just elevate the quality of your picture.
Night Sky Photography Settings for Canon
- As we discussed above, always keep the settings in Manual to get great images.
- Keep the Aperture at f/2.8 or any aperture but the largest size.
- Set the shutter speed at the highest speed that can stop the movement of the stars from distorting the picture.
- Set the ISO to 3200 or above for Aperture at f/1.4.
- the user can keep the white balance at 3400 Kelvin or as suitable for your subject.
Night Sky Photography with a Phone
- Move to a place away from any extra light sources because lights in the surrounding may ruin your picture.
- Have a tripod stand with you as you can click stable pictures with the help of the tripod without having to hold the camera.
- Install an app that can provide you with some features that can imitate the important features such as controlling the shutter speed, balancing the ISO, etc.
- Never use the smartphone in HDR mode because it slows the camera while clicking. Therefore, avoid HDR and click a raw picture.
- Never use flash for clicking pictures since it disturbs the brightness and lightening of the picture.
- Do not use the Zoom feature while clicking pictures, as it may ruin the pixels of the picture, and light could compromise the quality.
By the way, you can get more idea about how to do night sky photography using phone by referring my article on can I use my phone for astrophotography.
Which camera is best for night photography?
Several cameras are great at clicking breathtaking images of the night sky, such as:
- Nikon D810 Full-Frame DSLR
- Sony A7R III
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Mirrorless camera
Is a 50mm lens good to photograph the night sky?
The Canon 50mm lens is great for night sky photography when used at f/2.8 and above. It is reasonable and has great features as well.
You can know more about 50mm lens by reading my previous article on can you do astrophotography with 50mm lens.
What is ISO best for night sky photography?
ISO 3200 and more like 6400 works best for clicking night sky photos.
You can consider clicking pictures of the night sky as a craft, as you need to carefully understand and follow the step-by-step process to get the perfect image. Not only will you click great pictures in general, but photographing in the tricky night sky would become easier than you can imagine.
Therefore, do not hesitate to buy the necessary tools for clicking pictures of the beautiful sky in the absolutely pitch-black night sky.
Justin Parker is a professional photographer and has been in the industry since 2007. He attended the University of Georgia. Justin combines his passion for photography and his interest in writing to give life to this blog which talks about photography in order to help and inspire young photographers.