Astro and timelapse photography isn’t really an area I specialise in, but I do think it’s quite important to experiment and get creative with a project that’s not ‘what you do’ from time to time.
Shooting photos of the stars can be tricky; although the burning masses may emit a lot of light, the rigours of time and space diminishes the impact it has on your camera’s sensor buy a pretty huge amount. So the options for capturing the faint photons are a high ISO and long shutter speed – two techniques which come with their own set of drawbacks.
The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera is to light. But the side effect is ‘noise’- if you’re not familiar with the term, noise is an artefact caused in the image by the sensor. You can read more about camera noise . So you can’t go too high if you want any sort of clear image.
Most cameras — DSLR cameras anyway — handle long exposures pretty well. They can add the aforementioned ‘noise’ to the image, but noting like a high ISO will. The problem with long exposures and stars is they move across the night sky leaving a trail. That’s great if you’re looking to capture star trails, but not if you want sharper images for a timelapse.
Anyway, here’s how I captured the shots…
- Set the camera M (manual) mode with the exposure at 30 seconds
- Aperture needs to as wide as the lens will allow – mine was at f4
- Set ISO to 3200
- Plug in a remote shutter
- Focus manually – can be tricky
- Set camera to drive mode
- Lock down the shutter button on the remote and leave the camera for an hour or more
- Edit in Lightroom and export to video using a plugin
OK, so it’s nothing that spectacular… but it’s not bad for a first attempt!? The main problem is the sheer number of shots you need. Each shot takes 30 seconds to capture, but you need around 24 images for one second of footage. Do the maths on that, and it becomes clear how long you need to be stood out in the cold to get footage like this.
Watch this space for something a little longer.