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Take Better Nighttime Photos

Posted by HikerCass at May 16, 2014 01:12 PM |
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Learn how to take better nighttime photos with this new photography guide from Mountaineers Books.

Have you ever wondered how photographers capture those amazing nighttime shots of the moon, star trails and the Milky Way?

Here's your answer. Photography: Night Sky by Jennifer Wu and James Martin (Mountaineers Books) details the tips and techniques needed to photograph the night sky, including setup, exposure and the right amount of finishing touches to turn your nighttime photos into stunning spectacles of the cosmos.

Although the book is aimed at those who are already familiar with DSL cameras and processing images on their computers, there is plenty in this image-rich book to captivate even budding photographers. Here are three of our favorite tips.

"Star photography, I found, allows us to see more deeply into the galaxy. Hidden colors are revealed, and stars too dim for the human eye to perceive appear like magic in the image."  Jennifer Wu


Capture light paths with a long exposure

While singular points of light (like stars) portray a moment in time, light paths show the passage of time. Try setting up your camera with a steady tripod and a long-exposure (between 3 and 4 minutes) to artfully document everything from passing headlamps to the rotation of the Earth.

Upper Enchantments 2 at Night
Lining the sky with star trails. Photo by Denny Trimble.

Light-paint your foreground

Add visual interest to your foreground with the help of light-painting (illuminating an area or object with an artificial light). This process doesn't need to be high-tech; your headlamp or flashlight will do just fine. For even more hues, check out the color gels at your local photography store. They can be taped onto your light of choice and are easy to swap out as your photo shoot progresses.

Artist Point at Night
Light-painting at Artist Point. Photo by Lijuan Guo.


See the stars through your camera lens

If you're having a hard time seeing individual stars—let alone an entire constellation—in the sky, enlist the help of your camera. Its sensor is more sensitive than your eyes are. That means you'll be able to see more stars on your camera screen than in the sky itself. Hello Milky Way!

Upper Enchantments at Night
Revealing the Milky Way in the upper Enchantments. Photo by Christopher Williams.

The Milky Way isn't the only incredible sight you'll be able to capture at night. Check out Photography: Night Sky for more tips and tricks on photographing volcanoes, meteor showers and everything in between. And if you have your own photography tip, share it below. We'd love to hear from you!