Night sky photography is something that every photographer will play around their shooting process. It’s a slightly harder skill to master because the shots take longer to expose and harder to find your composition at such low visibility. It’s a great way to get star-filled nighttime landscapes or landscape illuminate by the moon slight. Most people don’t really get to see the beauty of the night sky is because of the urban light pollution. My best place to view and photograph the night sky is in the west and southern part of Penang island. I need to get away from artificial lights in order to see the stars well. Location scouting is important for night photography, most of the time you have to do it in day, when night fall is harder for you to have general idea how the location look like.
I have spent some sleepless nights and mosquitoes bite during my night sky photography with Samsung NX1. With the climate in Malaysia you can't really plan your outing day, most of my night sky outing came last minutes. You have to grab the chance if you think tonight is the night. Moon phase also very much affected in night sky photography, is the first priority if you are going for milkyway shot.
The Summer Milkyway - The best time for Summer milkyway is between April to Oct. If you have problem of finding the milky way, there are a few good free app you can download and use like Star Tracker for android or iOS . These shot was taken during new moon at around 2am with manual focus. With Samsung NX1, once you have selected manual focus mode, by turning the manual focus ring automatically increases the magnification on the LCD display by 5x or 8x, with the help of Focus peaking it highlights the areas that are in focus so you are able to quickly focus, its help a lot especially in the dark when you have a poor visibility. Samsung NX1 has come up something smart on this which is a big help in getting the focus spot on.
Cloudy sky - When you go for stars shooting sometime the cloud form out of no where, it is not the end of the world, don't give up by just going home, there are still plenty to try for. The cloud will reflect the city light or any other light and illuminate the night landscape.
The Moon - Moon is the easiest object to find in the night sky but got some challenge to shoot the moon. You might need to mount your camera to a telescope in order to capture more details on the moon instead of cropping it from your normal tele zoom lens. Beside zooming to the moon, you also can get some moonscape shot, it will light up the landscape like day time.
Star trails - To photograph this magical Star trail effect, you need lots of patience and also may require a significant amount of time, from few minutes to two or three hours or even more is typical. Clouds, humidity and strong winds can ruin your photo. I use to shoot with a cable release with in order to program the interval shooting but with samsung NX1 build in Interval capture, it makes my life more easier, beside shooting star trail, you can use that to shoot time lapse, or hunt for meteor and lightning. it can give you maximum up to 9999 shots but subject to memory card storage.
I hope my short introduction of night sky photography can give you an idea what to look for during the night, passion and patience are important in order to get a nice composition for your shooting and lastly safety always come first. Have fun!
All photos, above, have been shot with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co., Ltd.