One of the challenges of nighttime photography — particularly Milky Way and star photography — is to get enough depth of field. If you’re focused at the horizon, and you’re using the widest possible aperture on your lens, how could your foreground possibly be sharp? Yet, if you look at galleries online, you’ll see countless photographers capturing perfectly sharp photos of a landscape underneath the night sky. What techniques are they using? In this quick guide, I’ll lay out a few useful tips for capturing sharp landscape photos at night.
If you like taking landscape photos at night, you’ll surely be familiar with one of the main challenges: successfully focusing on the stars. Often, you can’t use autofocus, since there isn’t enough light for your camera’s focusing system to lock onto anything. Unfortunately, even manual focus doesn’t always work, which means you may need to use some out-of-the-box techniques to make it work. This article goes through some of the most useful tools that you have at your disposal.
Everywhere in the world, across the course of a year, the sun will be below the horizon just about 50% of the time. Although it can take a while for sunset to fade away completely, it’s safe to say that we spend a huge portion of our lives under dark skies. Normally, nighttime isn’t something that people equate with being awake, of course, but landscape photographers are strange people. In fact, moonlight and the Milky Way can lead to some of the best photos you’ll take, and they are well worth exploring with your camera. In this article, I’ll go through the characteristics that make some lenses better than others for star and nighttime landscape photography.
The Atacama Desert on the Chilean high plateau of Altiplano and the Mauna Kea Summit on the Big Island of Hawaii are generally recognized as the two best places for astronomical observations. However, in this article, I argue that the best place for amateur night sky photography is elsewhere. It is in Hawaii too, but on the Island of Maui. It is the extinct Haleakala volcano. Although smaller than the Mauna Kea volcano, Haleakala might actually be better suited for amateur photographers.
It seems like many of our readers really loved our new idea (big thanks to John Bosley for suggesting it!) with the “how was this picture taken” series, since we had huge feedback and lots of interesting discussions. I must apologize for not being able to provide the answer to our first exercise sooner, as I have been swamped with the workshops I am conducting in the mountains. We will try to post answers sooner to such series in the future! Let’s take another look at the image in question and this time I will start off by revealing some useful EXIF data on the same image to kick off the answer:
Going forward, we will be featuring the new “how was this picture taken” series articles, asking our readers to look at an image, analyze it and provide information on how they think the image was captured. When guessing, information could include such data as: approximate exposure variables (shutter speed, aperture and ISO), focal length, camera to subject distance, camera and lens used, what the gear was mounted on, post-processing techniques, composition, cropping, etc. This could be a fun exercise for our readers to practice with and we see it leading to all kinds of fun discussions.
P.S. The answer has been posted here.