Nightscapes – getting set up

Now that we have arrived at the location, have all our equipment with us, we are (almost)ready to start shooting. As indicated earlier, a sturdy tripod is as essential as a good camera. For taking long exposures the camera has to be perfectly still. Even the mirror opening and closing inside the camera when taking the photo can be enough to blur the photo. Some cameras have the capability to raise the mirror so that it doesn’t open and close wham taking the photo. Check your camera out to see if that is the case. On the two nights that I was taking the photos for this series it was quite windy and the camera was being buffeted by the wind making it very difficult. You can see in the image below that I have attached the camera bag which was quite heavy (with lenses etc) to the centre pole of the tripod to try to make it even more steady.

Camera and tripod weighed down with camera bag

Camera and tripod weighed down with camera bag

Since we are going to be shooting in almost complete darkness it is going to be difficult to get a level horizon. See if your camera has the ability to display how level it is on the screen to help you with this as it can be quite difficult in the dark.

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For this type of photography you are going to have to forget about using automatic settings and are going to have to experiment in full manual mode. Note the settings in the shot below – 30 seconds exposure with F4 aperture and 3200 ISO. You are going to have to maximise your camera’s settings to pick up any available light at all. You can see that the camera is also storing the images in both RAW and jpeg formats. RAW will give us the ability to work more with the images in post-processing later as it captures far more detail. JPEGS are good in this instance for a quick examination of the photos on the low end laptop that I was travelling with.
The camera is also set to remote release of the shutter.

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In the next post I will cover taking the photos.

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