A Beginners Guide To Sky Photography

Ben Canales is one of those photographers who enjoys taking photographs in total darkness. He also enjoys shooting when the skies are the clearest and the stars are the brightest which also happens to be when it's freezing outside. At some point you have probably seen these amazing night images and maybe you have even tried your hand at a few. Well Ben has a made a rather simple but exhaustive tutorial on how you too can capture the earth and the skies at night. Some of his tips like the 600 rule and how to easily setup a nice composition in near darkness are really insightful and almost makes me want to try my hand at a few long exposure shots next winter. Check out his other star tutorials, and hopefully this post helped you forget about the blazing summer heatwave going around!

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Kishore's picture

that's great info.
thanks for sharing.

Marshal F's picture

Does the rule of 600 apply to purely the focal length or the angle of view? I.E. would you multiply the focal length of the lens by the crop factor then divide if by 600 if you are shooting on a different format?

Reed Severson's picture

the comments on the his vimeo page he states for cropped sensors to use 400 instead of 600.

M's picture

Cool photography.

Stephen Godfrey's picture

I have never heard of the rule of 600 but I would take the effective focal length you are using. So if you have a 20mm lens on a Nikon Dx body the effective focal length would be 30mm. Then using the rule of 600 give me 20seconds.

Happy to see this video tutorial making it around and helping out. Shooting at night can be intimidating, but with a few tips and pointers, you can skip common mistakes and take much better advantage on your sleepless night!
Concerning the rule of 600- it is specific to the sensor size.
Convert the lens focal length by the crop factor and then divide it into 600 as Stephen Godfrey said.
But, with that in mind, if this is your first time out shooting stars, purposefully take some shots with the exposure being "too long" just to see how much brighter the image can be by extending your exposure time.

Daf's picture

Have wanted to do something like this for quite a while now. Good tips thanks.
Shame I live in Central London. ;)

This post is just in time. Heading for Monument Valley next week and was hoping to do some night shots.

Awesome tutorial!!

Matt Green's picture

Good work. I could imagine you cutting this down a bit, but because your personality is interesting and fun, I had no problem watching. Good job of getting the info out and adding a little humor to make it enjoyable. I hadn't heard of the Rule of 600 until seeing this post. Thanks...

I have a question pertaining to using the highest ISO, I never tried using the highest ISO with the longest exposure possible, but will give it a try soon... but my point is, every time i use an ISO of 1600 or higher, i get a really noisy image... and the colors seem to be a little bit distorted. Now I am gonna give it a try... but I'd love to know how i can decrease the noise in my pictures.
BTW, i am a huge fan of this website... first discovered it last year, while you guys were having the Canon / Nikon prize contest. I was going to take part, but my photography skills were very basic at the time.

Waleed Alzuhair's picture

Beautiful tutorial, well done..

Huge dust spot on the right side of the horizontal frame :p Great video, if I ever try night astrophotography.

Reed Severson's picture

For those using crop sensors- On one of his pages he says the rule of 600 is actually 400 for crop sensors. Just FYI.

Really stoked on this video lots of new things to try out at night. 

I had never thought about using high iso and wide aperture with long exposure shot... I'll definitely be giving it a try!

thank you!