Consider you made an enjoyable photo shooting last night including the Pole Star. Moreover consider you had a quality printout of the photograph then hanged it on a wall of your home… Congratulations! You traveled through time. The picture on your wall is at least from 450 years ago…
No, I didn‘t make a sentence with incoherency. If you took a star photo, the image you got belongs to hundreds of year ago ... Well then, how did it happen? You should know that the distance to earth of objects on the sky or in the universe, of we take the photos or see with naked eye, is calculated in terms of light years. Now, thinkabout the time it takes the light, in other words the image, arrives to us... Hundreds of years elapse in the earth before image of the star reaches us.
How is star exposure made?
After summarizing the sides of the matter like past, time and light, which sounds somewhat unfamiliar, we can switch to some practical information on photography. In this section, I will talk about a technique in which we adapt long exposure shoot to stars: Star Exposure.
The “shutter” speed on our cameras ensures us freeze time in different sections. I usually clarify the matter to beginners using the example of blink of an eye. Consider that the duration when life enters increases while the eye of a person stays open. As you know, if you keep your eyes open beyond certain duration your eyes stream. Well, what happens in photography? If you are in a setting where is dark enough, if you keep your eyes open more, you see that everywhere lightens…
The shutter speed of cameras is similar. Long exposure is comparable to your friend who can keep eyes open to be able to see even in the dark. High shutter speed is your tiqueur friend who blinks continually... When exposing stars, we are going to imitate your friend possessing the most useless super hero power ever, who can keep her eyes open for a long time in order to be able to see in the utter darkness.
In order to be able to take a clear photo of a quick-moving object, we first of all need sufficient light and then a high shutter speed. On the other hand, in times when we need more light for exposure, we need a steady speed and a lower shutter speed. That is to say, not only time, but we also need a steady speed. In summary, while taking star photos, your camera should look at the sky longer without blinking or moving.
Sure, there are other things that we should take into consideration during long exposure. If you have ever flown at night, you should have noticed how strong the rising city lights were when you have looked down. Those city lights and similar light sources are the primary physical elements that we should avoid when shooting the stars.
In case any light other than that emitted by the celestial bodies themselves enters in your photo frame, it will impair the quality of your photo or might completely damage your photo. Besides the light source issue, I should also remind that, using the lunar calendar we should prefer times when no strong light source like moon is quite close to Earth.
Moreover, because the shutter of your camera will have to be open for an average of one to three hours, it should certainly be stable in the meantime. If you don’t have a high quality tripod or if you can‘t keep your camera stable during exposure, it is of very low possibility that you will be successful.
I know that I am explaining a bit complicated, but don’t worry. I’m going to summarize. Let me give you a step by step guide about what you should take into consideration related to star exposure.
You must shoot away from city lights.
The sky should be clear and the Moon shouldn’t be at the top. Because you will make long exposure, you must have a tripod that can prevent camera shake. Carbon fiber ones can considerably reduce shake.
In order to prevent shakes whenever you press the shutter and in order to be able to use the ‘bulb’ mode if it isn’t taking place on your camera, you must have a cable trigger. If you want to convey the motion of stars on your photo, you might use longer exposure duration. If you want to shoot the stars as is, as points, you might use a much more shorter exposure duration.
Your ISO/ASA value should be as low as possible. Long exposure=sensor getting warmer=more noise. In order to avoid it we should use the lowest possible ISO values.
If they take place on your lens, you must turn off anti flicker and auto-focusing.
Do not attempt to increase aperture to values like f22, or you unnecessarily lengthen the wait time for hours.
Do not go desolate places posing risk for you just for the sake of moving away from city lights. If you are going somewhere like a village or town, do not forget to tell people that you are going to shoot. Otherwise, the owner of the territory that you entered in the night time is likely to assume what you are holding is a gun and react you! I should repeat that it is not a joke, but a serious warning.
You should set the exposure duration based on your experiences, the circumstances and the photo you wish to get. Do not afraid from trial and error. The above stated duration of one hour is exemplary.
Finally, you must use the sentences like “May be most of the stars that we see now went out a long time ago” only at romantic moments with your darling. Because, the stars within our visual space have millions of years to die and they will probably stay there after our planet disappear. If you are not making a telescopic shoot, you take the photo of past rather than of
the lost and gone forever.
As a last word, I should say that I wrote this article not as a scientist but as an ‘advertising photographer-director’ who is interested in space and science...
What is in our backpack?
Edelkrone SliderPlus Pro XL
Canon 5D Mark IV
Tamron SP 15-30 F /2.8
Tamron 70-200 F /2.8 Vi DC USD
Manfrotto MK055 XPro 3W Tripod
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