Living in a big city like Toronto, I (and many others) often feel like I’m living in the centre of the universe. Surrounded by a skyline dotted with skyscrapers, spotlights, a frequent stream of planes and the occasional drone, it’s easy to forget that we’re one tiny part of a much larger galaxy.
In Nova Scotia, when the weather permits, the wonders of the cosmos are on full display. With parts of the province designated as Dark Sky Preserves, simply gazing up provides spectacular views of our neighbouring stars.
As this was my first time shooting in an ultra-dark environment, a quick Google search gave me a few recommendations to make the most of the night sky.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Pump up the ISO
I played around with the ISO setting on my camera until I found a level that felt right, but generally, I had the most success when setting my ISO at 800 or 1600. Setting the ISO above 1600 typically created grainy results.
2. Slow down the shutter
As I was working with some light from the moon, I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds. I found that the further I pushed the exposure time, the more star trails I’d pick up in the photo. It’s a cool effect, but not what I was aiming for.
3. Adjust the aperture
Here, I pushed my camera to its limit and set the aperture at f/2.8.
4. Frame up your shot
To help your viewer truly appreciate the depth and awe-inspiring nature of a star filled night, it helps to include an object in the foreground to ground the photo. Even some of the best photos taken in space include a familiar object to help give the viewer a sense of perspective.
For those interested in learning more, here are a few great resources to help you perfect your night sky and star photography.
1. National Geographic: Photo Gallery: Photographing the Night Sky
3. 500px: How To Photograph The Night Sky
4. Popular Photography: How-To: Shoot Epic Landscape Photos Of the Night Sky