Shooting Stars

Stars Above Light Painted Pines

I learned last night that night photography is definitely not as simple as day photography. My goal has been to learn how to take pictures of stars and star trails. It was my first attempt at shooting stars with my new Nikon D3400 and Tamron 16-300 mm lens. I purposely chose a night that would have a new moon (less light) and studied the weather forecast to make sure clouds would not be a problem. My grandpa has taken some beautiful star trail shots so we went out into the forest and he guided me along. Before dark, I set up my lens to the proper focus using auto focus while taking a picture then used some gaffers tape on the lens to hold it in that position. I then changed the lens setting to manual focus and waited until it was dark outside. After finding a level and sturdy area to set up my tripod, using my red-light head lamp, I set my camera and lens to the following settings:

  • Camera on Manual Mode
  • ISO setting of 6400
  • Aperture Setting of 4
  • Shutter Speed of 20 seconds
  • White Balance to Incandescent (bluer shots) or Cloudy or Daylight (yellower shots)
  • Vibration Reduction on lens to OFF
  • Lens set from Auto Focus to Manual Focus
  • Exposure Compensation at 0.0
  • Wireless Shutter Remote

I experimented taking different shots by changing the ISO to 3200 and the White Balance from incandescent to cloudy. My photos turned out fairly good for my first time but maybe because we went out too soon after sunset the light pollution seemed to not help with capturing the numerous stars that can not be seen with the human eye. With anything in life, if you want to be good at something it requires practice and patience. My next trip with require both as I want to move on to capturing star trails soon.


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