Making photographs, not just taking them – Dundee, Tayside, Scotland

Stars at Night

After reading a post by another member on PixelatedPhotographer.com I felt inspired to get out with the camera on a clear night.

Well this week I managed to get a clear night and a spare 20-30 minutes.  I realised that living on the edge of a city means I couldn’t hope for results anything like what I’d seen but with it being nothing but fields and countryside out the back of my house I hoped there wouldn’t be too much light pollution.

My first attempts did not go too well, in the dark the camera cannot focus so I had to attempt manual focus which is not easy when it’s too dark to see what your trying to focus on and passing planes getting in the way:

But after some playing around I managed to get this:

I managed to get this on a 20 second exposure directly above my head.  It amazes me how much the camera manages to pick up, I could only see a fraction of these stars.  So proving that I could manage to pick up plenty stars and managing to correctly focus I decided to work on composition:

I then discovered that shooting any other part of the sky than directly above me meant the camera was picking up on too much light pollution so giving a much more orange glow (as above) rather than a rich dark backing for the stars to really shine.  With a little tweaking of the RAW file in LightRoom I managed to make a more interesting shot colourwise:

Ok so these aren’t nearly as good as the shot that made me get out and give this a go, but I am happy with them as a first attempt and for being taken in my back garden.  Next I will have to try at the next opportunity to drive out into the countryside to a much darker spot.  Then I’ll really see what I can get, plus while I’m at it I may try to do some star trails work.  This is another idea I’ve wanted to try out but never found the time during summer, but now that the dark nights are here again I may just get an opportunity.

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2 responses

  1. I focus on something in the far distance – usually the mast on the hills behind Dundee – then switch off autofocus – works well

    26/01/2012 at 18:03

    • batty79

      I will try that next time. Problem I seem to have is I’m still using a kit lens so I can’t set the focus to say 10feet to infinity, I simply have to make do with the depth of field the aperture is giving me.

      26/01/2012 at 21:30

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