Nightscapes – escaping from light

Photography is all about capturing light. Light falls onto the (digital) camera’s sensor and is recorded. In this series I am going to look at taking photos of the night sky and in particular, stars. Taking photos of starry nights requires some different techniques to daytime or landscape photography and also a lot of patience and dedication. For a start most of us live in cities or urban areas that are quite well lit up at night. The light from towns and cities greatly diminishes our views of the stars. Even on clear nights in major cities we are lucky if we can see just a few starts. The first thing we need to do to take great photos of stars is to get away from this ‘light pollution’ that is around us. This means travelling literally hundreds of kilometres away from major urban areas.  Astronomical societies and forums on the web provide maps of light pollution for your area.  These give you a great idea about how far you need to travel if you really want to get away to clear skies. Getting into the country or outback areas alone may not be enough as we also need to take into account the weather conditions and the type of moonlight that we will encounter. Obviously for stars we want to avoid cloudy nights so the sky has to be perfectly clear. In addition, the light from the moon is also a major source of light pollution so it is best to avoid any nights where the moon is ‘lighting’ up the sky. Using websites such as moonconnection.com can help you plan for days/nights where there will be little or no moonlight.

Please note that this video runs for some time and is a time-lapse that is meant to convey both the distance and time investment that it will take to travel to a location free of light pollution where stars can best be photographed.

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