There is nothing more amazing than taking photographs of the night sky.
But there is an important factor that comes into play when taking that shot that makes people go “WOW”.
And that factor is composition.
Here are a seven things to consider when thinking about taking your night shots.
1. Scout during the day to look for good locations.
2. Make sure you have foreground. When looking for what to photograph, look for what I call a ‘hero piece’. It might be something as simple as a lone tree or a windmill.
3. Always ask permission before going onto someone’s property. Jumping a fence at day or night is trespassing. Just don’t do it.
4. Use apps such as Planit Pro to see where the milky way will be rising. A hero with the rising milky way makes the perfect subject.
5. Sometimes a silhouette looks great – but sometimes (especially if it is a really dark night) it is best to light your hero. A dull light is best for front lighting. I use a dull torch and sometimes even my phone! I often use a flash too on the lowest setting either behind the subject or down low.
6. Try taking many shots with different lighting by moving around the subject. When blended together in Photoshop, the different variations can make a pleasing effect. It is the same procedure as when you combining shots to make a star trail - so check out my Youtube video on how to do that.
7. So you are in an open space or by an open lake – and there is no hero! What do you do??
It is selfie time! You become the hero. But just be aware to reduce your exposure time as it is near impossible to stay still for 20 seconds. I use a pop of flash to freeze any motion and I often carry my old lantern with me. My lantern has a small coil of yellow Xmas lights in it, which gives off a dull glow. The trick is to hold it as still as possible!
Finally... Have fun! It’s all about being out under the stars and experimenting. Take some time out to just stop and stare at all those wondrous stars and feel at one with the universe.