July 3, 2009

Night Sky Photos

Northern Lights
Missoula, Montana
November, 2004
Canon 10D

I've been making plans to photograph the fireworks again this year. All my thinking about exposures for bright things in a night sky reminded me of photographing celestial objects like the moon, a lunar eclipse or a comet, all of which I've done. Then I came across a great article, by Porter's Camera of Iowa, that contains very good tips about photographing the night sky (also called "astrophotography").

Hale-Bopp Comet
Missoula, Montana
April, 1997
Kodak Gold 400 Film
Cropped from Original

A tip of my own that doesn't get mentioned is to use the spot or partial metering mode on your camera for pictures of the moon. If you point the spot metering area at the moon, the camera will not be fooled by all the black sky surrounding it. An average or slightly brighter (no more than +1) exposure should give you good results.

Lunar Eclipse
Missoula, Montana
October, 2004
Canon 10D
Cropped from Original

And remember, a tripod is essential for these kinds of pictures because of the long exposure times involved. A remote release (cable release) or a 2-second self-timer setting is also useful since they keep you from jiggling the camera during the exposure.

Have fun in the night sky!

Northern Lights
Missoula, Montana
November, 2004
Canon 10D