Even though I love taking pictures in general, night photography is probably one of my favorite types. I find it so fascinating that the camera(if under the right settings) can pick up so many more stars than the eye can see. The picture above was taken by me a couple months ago in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. What makes star photos more interesting is having something in the foreground.
Another great foreground element is mountains:
Camera settings can be pretty tricky for star photos. Heres the information for the lens and settings I used for the photos in this post:
Lens-canon 50mm 1.4
f stop/aperture- 1.4
exposure time- 15 seconds
The first setting you want to look at, no matter what lens you are using, is the aperture. You want that to be on the lowest number possible, best results use an aperture of less than 2.8. This allows for the most amount of light to be let into the photo, which is how the camera picks up so many more stars than we can see
The next setting you want to change is the exposure time. It needs to be longer because it is night and you want to pick up every detail in the sky. Star photos range from exposures of 10-40 seconds, longer than that will lead to star trails(because stars move with the earth's rotation) so the stars will start to look elongated. The lower aperture you have, the lower your shutter speed can be. Experiment around with the two.
The final step is ISO. Honestly I hate ISO but it is necessary for these types of photos. I tend to not want to use a high ISO because I do not like my pictures to be grainy. 800-1600 are my go to numbers for star photos, but depending on your cameras capability you may need to go higher.
A lot of star photography consists of guessing the settings, but once you get the right ones the pictures will turn out great.
Tip: always take star pictures when it is a new moon or the moon is not over the horizon yet. If the moon is out the pictures will become too light.
Pictured Above: Orion's belt over Lake Tahoe
Pictured Above: Stars with palm tree leaves in foreground
Pictured Above: The Milky Way with palm trees
Pictured Above: The Milky Way in the Santa Cruz mountains