On Friday, I went to an urban area somewhere in Balik Pulau to capture stars and Milky Way (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way) with Timmy and Hong Wai. We did some research on Google Earth and also go there a day before to check out the place. This place is just nice, which is far away from civilization and only has minor light pollution. Criteria like this is important as it is needed to capture the bright stars in the sky instead of human-generated lights.
That day, I packed up my huge black bag with my trustworthy camera, a 17-40 f/4; a loan unit from Timmy and a cheapo tripod. Not to forget 2 dozen of cold beers and KFC tapao from Balik Pulau town to keep ourself energized for the rest of the night. We start to camp on this quiet place as early as 8pm to capture the amazing sky. At the beginning of the night, the sky is crystal clear and we could see the Milky Way with our naked eye. With high enthusiasm, we quickly pull out our equipment and set it up ready to start the shooting. At the moment when I did few experimental setting and strategically position my camera for a good composition, the cloud started to linger in the sky. This had reduced the visibility of the star and also cause heavy light reflection from the surrounding area as well. We pray hard so that we will have better luck of clear vision of the stars. Cloud come and go but we are consider lucky that occasionally we can see the Milky Way so clear. Hong Wai who is an astronomy expert educated me on the formation of stars. I quickly pick up the knowledge of how to spot a Scorpio and Southern Cross. The biggest that monopolized the sky is Sagittarius, for this one, I can only locate few stars only. Perhaps, my imagination toward this stuff is not good enough. However, the easier way to locate stars formation at night is to use your smart phone. For Android, you can install google Sky Map. For Iphone, you can use Planet. Both of this applications use the GPS coordinate and gyro to detect the location of star formation easily. What you need to do is to point up and look at the phone. I will go on to give some guide to shoot something like this.
Setting done on my camera and tips collected from internet:
- Reduce camera power consumption by reducing the LCD light and turn off picture review. Set this with LCD brightness and review time setting. This will surely keep your camera to keep shooting for the whole night.
- Reduce camera shutter vibration by then enable mirror lock up. On my camera, I go to C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive -> Mirror Lockup (fn #6)
- The other recommended way is to use a remote trigger and as sturdy tripod.
- Turn off noise reduction. On my camera, this is set in C.Fn II: Image -> Long exp. noise reduction
- To get the cool or blue-ish image feel, set the custom white balance to 2500K – 3000K.
- Get more coverage of the sky and foreground choose a wide angle lens. Glad that I have a 17mm
- Recommended shutter speed is 500/F. Where F is the focal length choose.
- To capture more light, use high ISO but keep an eye on the noise generated as well. I used ISO 3200 – 6400. I can’t accept the image quality generated if I go any higher.
- Another note on noise is that, you will see slight more noise generated when the CMOS is hot. Thus, give your camera a break after few hours.
Uploaded my Time-lapse Photography first tryout. Have a look on this one as well.
Milky way; the galaxy that hosted Earth.
Startrail is achieve by a long exposure of 30 min or more. By doing long exposure or photo merge you could capture the rotating Earth effect.
I hope that you could try this out as well and enjoy the beautiful stars that exist every night. Take the time to look up and appreciate the twinkling stars.
p.s. Do help to spread the joy and share this on your social network aka Facebook, Twitter or even Google+.