Night Time Photography

With the Perseid meteor shower coming to an end, I’ve got the itch to take more celestial photography. My camera should be good enough to take some reasonable pictures, but as I learned last night, I need one more accessory if I am ever going to take the high quality, detailed shots I am looking for: a remote shutter control.

See, last night, the maximum setting for keeping my shutter open on my camera was thirty seconds, which while very long, isn’t long enough to let the small pinhead sized starlights be picked up by my camera. Sitting it on a tripod, twenty minutes outside of Walkerton, I tried shot after shot, setting after setting to increase the quality and detail of my photos, but alas, none of them turned out exactly as I would have hoped.

There is a setting on my camera called Bulb, and what this does is let me keep the shutter open for as long as my finger is on the shutter release button. Unfortunately, I don’t have a very still hand, and any of the shots where I held the shutter open for a minute are blurry due to my interaction with the camera.

Thankfully, I was able today to find a remote shutter tool that plugs into the camera, and allows me to lock the shutter open for as long as I would like. I could, in theory keep the shutter open for one photo until the battery died. Some people have created stunning night shots by keeping the shutter open for five, ten, and even thirty minutes at a time and I am really looking forward to doing the same.

While I live in an area with relatively low light pollution, I want to take advantage of the night sky as much as possible. I quickly searched around and found someone who just yesterday posted the remote trigger I wanted to purchase on Kijiji, and so I contacted him, and he agreed to ship it to me post haste.

By Monday or Tuesday next week, I should hopefully have a remote trigger for my camera, and on clear nights, you’ll probably find me out on the road looking for spots to take beautiful starlit shots.

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8 Replies to “Night Time Photography”

  1. Great minds think alike 😀 I’ve decided to pick up a telescope with tracking, as well as a t-ring so that I can attach my SLR to the telescope as a lens. Even though I’m in the city I can see stars just fine, and am really anxious to see what sort of shots I can pull off.

    1. Tell me more about this. I’ve never heard of this stuff. I am just starting to get hooked. Who knew photography could be so much fun. I am going to pick up a 50mm prime lens once my dentist stuff is done, as well as a 100mm macro lens.

  2. I’ve got three lens for my camera right now, one is a 300mm zoom (that goes to 600 fully), a 35mm macro lens and then the ‘normal’ 42mm lens that came with the SLR. Plus I just picked up some awesome light filters from photojojo.com – anyhow.. side tracked haha.

    – A t-ring is really easy to find, they’re specific to cameras and they allow you to attach the camera to the telescope as a lens. There are some items you can purchase that will “hold up” the camera to the telescope (so the telescope + camera each have their own lens still) but apparently these are not that good and can cause bluring. You can find t-rings at pretty much every camera equipment story. Speaking of. Henry’s is a great one for our little area. They also take paypal online, which is neat. The staff is really friendly and they know their stuff (at least the two here in Ottawa do).

    – Telescope. I’m new in this department, and I’ve been doing a little research but haven’t found out a whole lot quite yet. I don’t know if tracking is *essential* for basic photography. It allows you to lock onto your position and follow it as time passes so that your images don’t blur with the movement of the stars. Great for super duper long exposures. I think most of what I read about this is when people are using telescopes to take pictures of lets say – dust in the galaxy, and things really deep in space. Which is why I don’t know if it’s essential to ‘basic’ photography.

    With a basic telescope and t-ring as well as a bulb / remote like you mentioned in your post, you should be able to capture things like the rings on Saturn for example since it’s “close” as far as planets go. At least, this is what I’m reading.

    That’s all I know so far! It’s really out of my league (still also VERY interested in teaching myself HDR photography, and it’s slow going) but it’s nice to know I have someone I can ramble about this stuff to!

    1. Yeah, I read up on it after you mentioned it. The T-ring solution defintely seems ideal. I can’t believe that for even a 60s exposure, the stuff I’m reading says it would be much clearer with a tracking system.

      I have two lenses currently – 18-55 IS kit lens and a 55-250 IS lens I recently picked up. It is definitely hard not to go crazy and spend all my money on lenses. I was going to get a 50mm F1.4 lens but last night, talking to Darren Rowse, he mentioned that I should get the 50mm F1.8 lens for now as it is almost as good, and still much better than the shots I could take with my 18-55 at 50mm.

      I find it weird how I just can’t wait to be able to take pictures of things both far away and very close up. Digital photography is something I’ve always enjoyed, but never had the equipment to really produce results that I liked.

      I think stars and moon are more in line with the shots I’ll focus on. Even Saturn would probably require a bigger telescope than I’ll be able to afford…

      Faux-HDR isn’t too hard. Phototuts.com has some great tutorials on how to achieve the effect.

  3. My macro lens is a 1:3,5 and I absolutely love it – a little cheaper then some of the macro lens out there but a great find from Olympus none the less. I have about $2,000 or so of camera equipment and it’s so hard to keep it in check, very expensive hobby. But with the 3 lens I have I’m pretty happy and I don’t think I’ll need a new one any time soon. The filters on the other hand.. do wants!

    CS4 has HDR scripts built in (and panorama which is what I used for the ones I’ve done lately), so all I really need to do is find a subject and then over / under expose my shots on a tripod and use that. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Ideally I want some beach / river / water shots to start. Over rocks, would be great. Since I don’t drive, I have a bike, and an amazing camera bag that everything fits into perfectly. Hopefully as I get more familiar with the city I’ll be able to get better shots. Would be great to go take some shots with you ya know! Motivation and inspiration and all the rest.

    I’m hoping to do more research on the telescope thing this weekend, maybe I can find a good deal on ebay or something.

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