How to Shoot the Stars at Night

 
Photographing the stars at night is something that every new photographer who loves star gazing wishes to take a picture of. Unfortunately, every new photographer knows that taking a picture of the night sky is an incredibly frustrating hobby, as many cameras cannot register the light of the stars. 
 
The same goes for the moon -- you take a snapshot of a beautiful full moon only to be surprised to find that your photos is of a white, featureless speck in the sky. 
 
I remember that during my communication skills workshop at http://www.dramaticsolutions.co.uk, my coach asked me to take a photo of the moon as a part of an exercise. I was so disappointed at the outcome that I asked if I could simply purchase a stock photo of the moon online instead. 
 
My coach agreed, since the photo was to be used in a mock up. 
 
 
Night sky photography is extremely tricky, and it requires you to be absolutely patient. On top of that, it is best that you shoot in a very dark place, like in the country or on the outskirts of the city. Basically anywhere where there is little interference from artificial light. 
 
Here are some tips on how to shoot the stars and other celestial bodies at night.
 
Camera Lens
 
Your camera lens should have a very large aperture in order for you to get all of the glinting lights in the sky. I suggest that you go for at least a 28 mm lens at f/3.5. 
 
It may be best that you always focus your lens manually, by going for the "infinity" setting on your focus. 
 
Settings
 
To photograph the starlight, you would need a high ISO. The recommended ISO is between 200 to 800, but note that your pictures may look grainy at 400 ISO and above. However, some photographers get great results with ISO of up to 1600. Try to experiment and see which ISO will work for you. You often set the shutter at bulb setting or go for about 2 or 30 seconds. 
 
 
Tripod
 
Since you are working at high shutter speeds and long exposures, it is best that you always go for a tripod. A tripod will allow you to photograph the exact spot needed in the sky without any shaking. 
 
The shutter speeds will always pick up even the slightest vibrations, so taking a photograph using your bare hands will often lead to a blurry photograph. It is also best that you try to incorporate a shutter trigger remote so that you can snap shots without having to touch the tripod and causing vibrations. 
 
Take Separate Pictures
 
When taking pictures of the night sky that include landscapes or any other foreground, you will always have to take two separate photos. The foreground will always be blurry when you are photographing the sky, so you would have to take a picture of the landscape first, and then take a second picture of the sky. 
 
You can then stitch the two shots together in a photo editing program.
 

 

Photographing Animals and Pets

 

 
I know that photographing moving objects is pretty hard as I discussed in my previous article, but photographing moving animals can be even harder. While studio shoots of well behaved dogs with their trainers can be just as easy as photographing a portrait with a person, the truth is that most animals will pose quite a challenge to photograph.
 
When photographing animals in the wild, it gets even harder. Not only do you have to deal with poor lighting, things getting in the way of your view, and constantly being exposed to the elements, you would also have to find your subjects. Therer are loads of tips on this BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/22115362
 
Animals in the wild are extremely shy, and it is extremely difficult to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. Anyway, here are some of my tips on how to photograph animals.
 
Take Lots of Photos
 
This is a no brainer. Since animals can be difficult to catch, it is best that you take as many photos as you can and simply choose your favourites among them. 
 
In every few hundred photos or so, there is bound to be a good one here and there. 
 
If you follow animal photography websites, you will often hear a variation of two stories: Some photographers got their perfect shot by simply chancing upon the animal, and the other half had to stake out for days and even weeks to get that perfect shot. 
 
Chances are, you would be one of those who have to stake out to get their shot, so make the most of your time.
 
 
Capture the Personality of the Animal
 
This is especially adorable in pets. Ask the owner about how their pet spends the day to get a little bit more information about the personality of the animal. 
 
For example, a lazy cat is best photographed while lounging about in the sunlight, while an energetic cat is best portrayed chasing after one of its toys. Be creative and try to capture the personality of the animal in your shots to get the full essence of your subject.
 
Shoot Within Context
 
A good photographer is an ethical photographer. You should always minimise the stress your subject feels. 
 
It is always better to shoot at the animal's home turf, where they would feel more comfortable and at ease. For example, dogs are quite used to people and will photograph just fine in practically any location, especially if you use some sort of dog treat. However wild animals, such as deer or rabbits, will require you to go to where they live in order to get the photos you need.
 
Avoid Using Flash
 
Again, in an effort to avoid stressing out the animal, it is best that you limit your use of flash. This means that you need to be a bit more technical and make sure that your camera's settings match the lighting of the area where you are shooting. 
 
Flash photography disturbs animals, and may even spook them. There is a reason why most zoos make flash photography illegal within the premises.
 

How To Photograph Moving Objects

Taking photos of moving objects might not be an easy task like many people might tend to think. 

 
In fact, the entire process can be quite complex to understand especially for beginner photographers or rather amateurs. Why is taking photos of moving objects difficult?
 
Well, this is probably an issue that you might want to raise in this case. The human eye follows objects in motion and therefore focusing is easy. However, a camera would only capture on instant in time during that movement.
 
This is why many people end up with blurred images since they do not know how to adjust their cameras the right way. People also seem to struggle greatly with  photography at night  - where sometimes you actually want that blurred appearence to your shots.
 
If you are a beginner or amateur photographer and you would like to learn how to photo moving objects, this piece of information might offer you some great insights. You can capture moving objects and demonstrate proper skill without necessarily having to come out with the blurry effect.
 
Panning is one of the photography techniques you would have to learn about if you really want to take good photos of moving objects. It basically refers to moving the camera at the same speed as the subject. Here are some of the techniques you can adopt when panning.
 

Adjust Shutter Speed

 
In order to come with the best results by photographing moving objects, you will have to adjust the shutter speed so as to effectively capture the movement of the subject. You don’t have to freeze them.
 
A shutter speed between 1/15 and 1/200 a second can work for you and the choice of any value between these two endpoint will depend on whatever you are capturing and how they would be moving.
 

Focus

 
Since there is a chance that the subject might be moving further or closer to you, you have to make sure that you focus with keen. The AI SERVO/AF-C focus mode would be a great help to you in such a case. The good thing with this focus mode is that it tracks the subject and predicts where they will be for the period of time that the shutter will take in order to go up.
 

Tracking

 
Learning how to photo moving objects might not be that easy if you cannot follow all the stipulated guidelines. For instance, it is important to hold your camera correctly and keep tracking the movement of your subject.
 
Again, you would require a smooth motion in order for the photo to work. You neither have to move too fast or too slow since the photo will just get blurred. 
 
This is why panning is recommended for amateur and professional photographers as well. If you can move the camera at the speed of the subject and have the right shutter speed, you will definitely come out with some great photos.
 

Speed Matters

 
Speed is a very important aspect to consider when taking photos of moving objects. The success of your photo in such a case would largely depend on your exposure speed. If the subject looks good when close to you, you might have to get a faster shutter which can capture the event at that point in time.
 

Increase Focal Length

 
Increasing focal length helps to prevent blurring. By doing so, you will be able to make sure that the sensor can react fast to the moving subject and get to freeze the action.
 
On the other hand, if you choose to back away from the moving subject and then use the zoom feature incorporated in your camera, the camera will have the right amount of time to focus and freeze the action for a better shot.
 
These are just but a representation of some of the tips you need to know about when you want to learn how to photo moving objects. If you want to capture the objects in focus, you might have to reduce the depth of field.
 
This is just but one addition that you can make to the above mentioned tips. In that case therefore, taking photos of moving objects does not have to be a hard task for you if you can follow these guidelines.

Take Advantage of the Golden Hour When Shooting Outdoors

 
Taking photos outdoors is one of the hardest things to do. In fact it’s something I still haven’t exactly mastered, especially when the lighting changes every day, with every season that passes us by.
 
 
It’s difficult to shoot outside because the lighting is very difficult to change—it is practically impossible to shoot in broad daylight without getting harsh shadows or perhaps blown highlights because it is so bright outside.
 
Of course there are many other issues that can arise from having photographs taken in such brightness—you will constantly have to be messing with your settings as you may either get overexposed photos, or terribly underexposed ones.
 
What photographers seem to agree on is that there is a ‘Golden Hour’ when it comes to outdoor photoshoots.
 
It’s not exactly just one hour, of course, but apparently what is agreed upon is that the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset are the best possible times for you to take photos of any subject outside.
 
This is because the light is softer, more diffused, due to the sun being lower in the sky.
 
As such you will have an easier time as the chances of harsh shadows will be lower.
 
 
I tested this theory recently myself and I found they were all quite right (what else would I expect, experts all say the same thing then it must be right) about the Golden Hour.
 
I volunteer at my niece’s school, taking photos during events like fetes and school programs. Sometimes they ask me to help out as well to take photos for the yearbook or the school magazine.
 
Just last week they asked me to take photos of some new school playground equipment that was recently fitted as the school wanted to include it in their quarterly magazine.
 

I'm Not An Early Person By Any Means

 
Of course I didn’t exactly want to wake up at the crack of dawn just to test out the first hour after sunrise hour, so instead I took my niece and a few of her friends and we went to the school an hour or so before sunset.
 
I found that they were right—the lighting during that time is so much better. I was able to get perfect shots of the play equipment right away.
 
Then I was able to get some portraits of the children with the equipment and it was beautiful—no harsh shadows, not overblown highlights, no over saturation or under exposure.
 
It was like everything was just right and I hardly had to adjust the settings of my camera.
 
Of course things were different the moment the kids began playing, running around and enjoying the new equipment.
 
I had to really exercise what I learned and researched about when it comes to capturing moving subjects.
 
At the same time I had to be mindful of the fading light.
 
I guess that’s the problem with shooting during the golden hour—you really have to make sure that you utilise your time right.

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