So first off, whats a K-bite? Well It’s just my fancy new name for little Tutorials from KenneyPhoto. Kenney Bites = K-bites!
I wanted to call them K-Tuts but my wife said it sounded way too ancient Egyptian… She’s the boss. I hope you guys enjoy these
little bites and I would love to hear from you in the comments section about any questions you have or K-bites you would like to see in the future!
The first K-bite comes from some Facebook suggestions, A couple of people wanted to know how I got these great star shots. I want to first give credit to the one who taught me.
Dennis Sprinkle is an amazing photographer, his landscape work and star shots are some of the best I’ve seen and as a bonus he is a Chattanooga local! He took my wife and I out to his star spot and really showed us how to get the best exposure of the night sky while still retaining decent sharpness and keeping those stars from moving. One thing to remember when shooting the sky is that the Earth is always moving. If you shoot too long, you may get trails from the moon or stars. There are ways around that for very long exposures and star trails are even a sought after by Astro photographers, but since I have never captured a good star trail I will save that k-bite for another day. You can visit Dennis’s website here and please check out his Facebook page and give him a “like” Tell him the Kenneys sent you! 🙂
Ok lets get to it!
A meteor flies over our scene, Andromeda Galaxy shows in the top left area. Wide angle 20mm Lens, 15 seconds at ISO 3200, f/2.2
What you need:
- Camera (you will need to be able to set the settings manually)
- Tripod (don’t leave home without it)
- Low aperture / wide angle lens (preferably f/2.8 or lower!)
- Extra memory cards and Batteries! (you may be shooting for hours)
- A location away from city lights
What you’ll want:
- Snacks (…’cause you’ll be out there for hours)
- Chair / Seat (……’cause you’ll be out there for hours)
- Friends (………’cause you’ll be out there for hours)
So the trick to getting a great night shot is experimenting and just having fun! A great place to start off is ISO 3200, or the highest ISO you can go with your model of camera.
But what about noise!? With night shots the noise isn’t really all that bad, of course that will also depend on your model of camera. You can always use your favorite editing software to remove noise. Our friend Dennis Sprinkle doesn’t even bother removing his noise and he shoots at ISO 6400!! WOW!
Ok, so we start off with ISO 3200, how do we know what shutter speed or aperture to use? Easy. Lets set the aperture to the lowest you can go, in most cases f/2.8. We want to choose the lowest aperture because well, it lets in the most light, and with night shots we need as much star light as we can capture! The pieces are coming together… ISO 3200 f/2.8!
So how do we set the shutter speed? We can’t put a light meter on the night sky and just come up with the perfect settings but there is a simple way to get the correct shutter speed! We want to pick a shutter speed slow enough to allow the most light possible but at the same time fast enough that we don’t capture star trails. Luckily There is a simple formula we can follow called the 600 Rule!
The 600 Rule! Stay with me, The formula for the 600 rule is:
600 /Lens focal length = maximum shutter speed to use.
For example the photo below was taken with a 20mm Lens (Lens focal length) My camera is a crop sensor not a full frame so my actual focal length is going to be multiplied by 1.6 on my model. 20mm x 1.6 = 32mm
600 / 32mm = 18.75 (I always round down) So 18 seconds would be the MAX shutter speed I can use without getting trails. Now on the photo below I shot at 20 seconds.. and guess what, I have star trails in the top corner. I should have shot at 15 seconds for that image.
Now the 600 rule isn’t a dead set rule, but it’s a great place to start!
Ok perfect so ISO 3200 f/2.8 18 Seconds and I’m good! Wellll…. Not so much, we just figured out the maximum shutter speed you can use without getting star trails. The rest is up to you, Experiment! I always start at ISO 3200 f/2.8 with the max shutter speed. You will need to fine tune your settings based on camera, lens, how much landscape you want to show but now we have a great starting point!
A happy accident, A car passed on the road behind us and lit up my forground, you can also experiment with flashlights! 20mm Lens, 20 second exposure at ISO 3200 f/2
Shooting Stars / Meteors
OK, you got your settings down, your out in the middle of nowhere and you want to catch a meteor. No Problem! Here is the secret…
Take hundreds of shots… Whether you use a cable release and you manually take multiple shots, an intervalometer or built in camera function to automatically do it for you, the rest is pure luck. You can possibly raise your chances slightly by checking on what constellation the meteors are radiating from. Watch for a few min to see where they tend to be falling, compose your shot, and enjoy the night sky!
There are many different methods of taking night shots / star photos. This is just one of them, do a Google search for Astrophotography and you will find many different methods to capture the night sky! We would love to see your star shots on our Facebook wall or just stop by to say hello! You can also leave any comments or questions below! Thanks so much and Happy Shooting!
Catching a meteor (shooting star) is just plain luck. With the correct settings, its all about pointing your camera in the direction you think will have the best chances and waiting. Another happy accident, A car pumped its breaks for just a couple of seconds, long enough to give my tree here a red glow! 28.8 mm (16mm on crop sensor) 20 second exposure at ISO 3200 f/2