Articals

Attempts at Night Sky Photography

Fuji X-E1 Samyang 12mm 30 seconds F/2 ISO 1250 outside of Watton

Photographing the night sky has been another type of photography I have been wanting to try for sometime as I enjoy learning new skills and pictures of the night sky can be quite interesting and have a wow factor.

I suspect because images of the night are more difficult to photograph in terms of being up later and patience make them not as common and therefore they get noticed more than say landscapes.  

A previous attempt using Nikon D7100 using 18-105mm F/3.5 25 Seconds ISO 3200

Like with anything it takes time to learn a new skill. While its still photography, photographing the stars requires a different approach to other genres of photography in terms of different equipment and techniques which I am still learning and acquiring more specialised equipment. 

I own two camera systems, Nikon D7100 and a Fuji X-E1 and are now a few years old and been succeeded by at least one model and they are not the latest and best equipment.

The lenses I own are not the most expensive pieces of equipment that can easily be many £1000's, thankfully I like to research my options and with looking at tutorials and reviews on equipment to see whats available at all price points.

Thankfully a lens available for the Fuji was on sale at WEX photographic secondhand department a was a Samyang 12mm f2.0 selling for £140 which I thought was a bargain being half the price of a brand new one and knew that I wanted it especially at that price making it remotely affordable. From my limited time of using the lens I have been very happy with the results when taking images of the stars and general landscape images I have taken so far.  

The general philosophy of taking images of the stars is that wider and "faster" the lens is the better. Using the 500 rule the maximum time the shutter should be open for is about 27 seconds before the stars start to blur. The image at the top was taken with an exposure time of 30 seconds but if you look closely enough the stars are starting to blur a little and next time I will try 25 seconds to eliminate this flaw. 

To work out the maximum shutter speed you divide the lens focal length by 500. The Fuji is whats called a crop sensor with a modifier of x1.5. The 12mm lens on the Fuji is actually 18mm (12x1.5=18) so 18 / 500 is 27.777.... or 25 seconds to play it safe. The micro 4/3rds have a crop factor or x2.

I am currently obsessed with this type of photography and hope to take many more if there are any clear nights which is the difficult part and also the moon.

Photographing the Night Sky

Photographing the night sky has been another genre of photography that I have not really gotten into. With the nights now getting longer it's getting increasingly accessible.  I have previously read a few articles and tutorials on how to take pictures at night and the camera settings are fairly simple.

The limiting factor in taking images of the stars in terms of camera setting is the shutter duration on how long it can stay open before the stars move and blur. The focal length alters the duration, wider the lens the longer the shutter can be open using the "500" rule equation to work it out. The math is you divide 500 by the focal length of the lens.

Using my 18-105 F/3.5 Nikon Kit lens as the example., shooting at 18mm the lens is actually 27mm taking into account the x 1.5 crop factor of my Nikon D7100 and 500 divided by 27mm is around 18 seconds which works as the above image is a 20 second exposure and using a remote trigger to activate the camera or the self timer will also work. 

Finding an location can be a challenge as you need an area with little light pollution, this tool  can be used to find a dark enough place providing there are no clouds which is another problem.