The night sky is a wonderful thing. For those of us who find enjoyment in exploring the outdoors, sitting beneath a bright starry sky is one of the greatest pleasures we can hope to find. Being able to capture what we see in a photo however, is a significant challenge.
Searching the internet for the best night photography tips and techniques only gets you part of the way. There is really just so much to learn, and I have never found anywhere on the web that adequately explained how to do all of it. There are just too many technical details, variables, and subtleties that go into making a solid photograph of the night sky.
Learn how to do night photography from the experts at CreativeLive
Night photography awesome, but it is also complicated and difficult. That is why I am so stoked that CreativeLive put together Night Photography Week, 5 days of on-location courses taught by the pros over at National Parks at Night. During the course of that week, the various instructors covered (in great depth) everything from star trails and the Milky Way, to light painting and night portraits. The Travelstoked team was heavily involved in the creation of this epic event, including the promo video below. That’s why we’re so proud to talk about how awesome it was.
We have written before about long exposure night photography and how much I love it. That is why it was so cool to be able to watch every single minute of Night Photography Week. Here are the top night photography tips that were covered during that epic week of quality, instructional educational content.
The best cameras, lenses, and gear for night photography
I am a big proponent of the notion that the gear you have does not guarantee a good photo. Similarly, . The truth is that it’s really not the camera, it’s the photographer. That being said, night photography is a little different. It’s one of the rare fields where the quality and caliber of your camera, lens, and additional accessories can and do make a difference in the final image.
The good news is that this doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive camera out there in order to take great images at night. In fact, I wrote another article during Night Photography Week that shows the variety of choices out there in camera models, as described by one the of the instructors.
Cameras and lenses aside, another thing that the instructors of Night Photography Week explained in great detail, was the whole host of other gear that make shooting in the dark possible:
- Intervalometers (and how to use them)
- Light painting tools
- Lens cloths
- Extra batteries, SD cards, etc.
The best settings for night photography
The best settings for night photography are entirely dependent on your location, your subject, and the ambient light in your scene. Mastering this part of night photography is an extremely nuanced, technical, and developed process. It’s not easy, and it can seem like there are a lot of things to remember.
However if you simply start with some basic principles, and you adjust accordingly when on location, then finding the ideal settings for your night photo shoot is actually very manageable.
Milky Way photography
Who doesn’t love an incredible Milky Way photo? I’ve been shooting these for years, but it is only really in the past year that I feel that I have dramatically improved my skills. This show I took while filming the first Night Photography Week course in the Alabama Hills, California.
Getting amazing Milky Way shots takes some time and practice. The good news? The instructors of Night Photography Week go into great detail how to accomplish this.
Capturing star trails
Light painting and night portraits
Post-processing tips for night photography
Night photography is a specialized form of photography. There are a lot of different things to consider when taking the shot, so it makes sense that the post-processing element would have to be specialized and different as well. Compensating for star trails and foreground glow for example, took me a very long time to figure out all on my own.
It is truly in the post-processing of your RAW image that is so essential in creating night photographs. This is just another place where Night Photography Week has you covered. Learning things like how to lift the shadows, keep noise reduction minimal, and bringing out the brightness of the stars are all explained.
What’s not covered in Night Photography Week?
For all the amazing information covered during CreativeLive’s event, there are a few tips and techniques for night photography that weren’t covered. Slightly more advanced techniques like time-lapse photography for example, simply weren’t covered.
Additionally, I would have loved to have seen a few segments dedicated to the promotion, printing, and business side of creating these types of images. While I have sold a number of prints, including my night photography prints via my site at jkatzphoto.com, I am always looking for more information for how to grow that side of my night photography.
Other than that, I would say that CreativeLive did a pretty awesome job at covering everything you need to know to get started in, or improve your ability to take amazing pictures at night. I highly recommend checking it out.
Also, holy s*%# did you see that?!
Oh yeah, one more thing. Remember that Chinese rocket that re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up over the night sky – so bright that it made the news? Remember? It was sometime this past summer (July 27th, 2016 at 17:45 pm… approximately)? You probably saw some unbelievably insane footage of that event on the news or online?
Well, that was us… We just happened to be in the right place, at the right time to witness the fireball that streaked across the California night sky for over two whole heart-stopping minutes. This is the video that our team captured that night:
How crazy is that!? I know the video doesn’t fully do it justice, but the fact that we were able to capture this footage at all is pretty crazy. I wrote a blog post back in July describing what we saw and how we were able to capture that insane fireball.
So that’s the story of Night Photography Week. An epic event full of professional-level tips, techniques, and ideas for capturing stellar photos at night. The event was out of this world, you might say. Some have said that this whole thing really blasted off.
Too much? Ok I’ll stop with the space puns. But you should know here at Travelstoked we really try and reach for the stars with our content. Or is it shoot for the moon? Either way, you get the idea.
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