night skies, stars, marlon du toit, wild eye, africa

Capture the Night Skies

Marlon duToit All Authors, Marlon 1 Comment

The night skies in Africa can hold it’s own for sheer beauty against any other destination.

The lack of pollution makes for incredible visibility and clarity, something every safari enthusiast can’t seem to get enough of.

So how would you go about capturing the stars of Africa?

night skies, stars, marlon du toit, wild eye, africa

16mm, f3.2, 30 second exposure, ISO 4000

Next time you are feeling creative and wanna explore some night-time photography, keep the following tips handy.

Equipment:
1. A sturdy tripod.
2. A flashlight.
3. A wide-angle lens, ideally capable of shooting close to 14-16mm of focal length.
4. If your camera body can shoot at high ISO, it the quality of the final image will be far more pleasing.

Set-up:
1. Find a subject. A striking tree will work fine. If you decide on an animals as a subject it becomes rather tricky. Be very careful at night and make sure you can’t be surprised by dangerous wildlife.
2. Set you camera & tripod up in the preferred position. I enjoy lower angles in order to incorporate more stars.
3. Illuminate the subject, and make sure to set your focus on that.

Camera Settings:
1. Set your mode to Manual.
2. F-stop as wide as possible, something like f/4 or wider.
3. Shutter speed of 30 seconds.
4. ISO can vary between 3200 & 5000, depending on how much light your lens lets in.
5. White Balance set to 3000K
6. Use a remote shutter release. If you don’t have that, simply set your camera to a 2-second self time. This will avoid any camera shake from tripping the shutter manually.

Execution:
1. Once you have composed and focused correctly, trip the shutter.
2. Now you need to very softly illuminate your subject. A direct flashlight is often too bright, so best would be to “bounce” the beam onto your hand, and angled towards your subject. It will take some practice so don’t feel despondent if your first attempt fails.
3. If the subject appears too dark, simply add more light within the 30-second exposure. If the subject is too bright, decrease the amount of light.

Processing:
1. Darken the darks, contrast helps the stars to “pop”
2. Brighten the stars. By toggling the “whites” & “clarity” slider to the right, it will make the stars stand out even more.
3. Play around with the colours, add a bit of vibrance for added effect.
4. The image will be noisy due to high ISO’s, but a bit of noise reduction will do you well and won’t be much of an issue.

night skies, stars, marlon du toit, wild eye, africa

16mm, f3.5, 30 second exposure, ISO 3200

Remember to always have fun when trying new styles of photography! Be creative and enjoy the journey!

Till next time,

Marlon

Comments 1

  1. Carol Bell

    Thanks for this blog Marlon…..the skies are striking here (in Marloth) at the moment and keep on saying I must get up and get my camera out…… you have given me encouragement to try. Something I have never played around with is “white balance” and must learn more about it.

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