night

Distant Land

Last year I had the pleasure to visit Chile and the Torres Del Paine national park with Konsta Punkka and the crew. We stayed there for eight days and shot a mini-doc series Exploring Earth's first episodes. If you haven't seen the series, check it out here: Exploring Earth – Patagonia

I captured this view from a different perspective than the usual views of this mountain line. I used two exposures to capture the scenery and then blended them together in Photoshop. 

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 - Tripod RRS TVC-34, BH-40 Ballhead. 
Sky ISO 6400, 30 sec, f/2.8 @ 14 mm
Water & Mountains ISO 800, 215 sec, f/4.0 @ 20 mm

Post-processing

I blended the two vertical images manually in Photoshop CC. Learn this blending technique from my eBook Star Photography Masterclass. After combining the images, I opened the final work in Lightroom and edited it with Phase Presets: Hazy Night.

If you wish to see my and Konsta's photos in prints, visit the Photo & Camera Expo in Messukeskus, Helsinki on the 17-19th March. 

Milky Way & Aurora

A couple of weeks ago I went on a six-day road trip with Sami (@samiheiskanen) from Helsinki to Utsjoki to all the way up to Varanger, Norway. Even with over 4500 km's of driving we had an excellent photo journey there. 

For the final day in Norway, we had a chance to watch the Northern Lights dance over the clear sky near Vadsø. I captured this view from a nearby small river. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Manfrotto MT190CX Pro tripod. 
Two horizontal photographs ISO 6400, 30 sec., f/2.8 @ 14 mm 

Post-processing

I blended the two vertical images manually in Photoshop CC. If you wish to learn this blending technique go and see my ebook Star Photography Masterclass. After combining the images, I opened the final work in Lightroom and edited it with Saga Lightroom presets Star Landscape - Born and Split-Toning - Blues.  

Milky Way & Aurora - Vadsø, Norway - 2016

Way Of Light

Driving around Western Finland in pitch black night I found myself looking at train tracks to the horizon. Focusing on getting the settings perfect while the train sounds were breaking the silence of the night. It was a feeling to remember. While I was nowhere near the upcoming train, the moment certainly made my heart rate go up. Be safe out there, don't do anything stupid. 

I hope the image conveys the feeling I had in that specific moment. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8, Sirui Tripod & Ballhead
Two horizontal photographs with settings: ISO 6400, 2.8, 30 sec. 14 mm. 

Post-Processing

I used Lightrooms built-in panorama function to stitch the two images together. I edited the colors with Phase Preset: Hazy Night and edited the basic settings. I also enhanced the Milky Way in Photoshop with my Fine Art Action: Enhance Stars. 

Way Of Light - Western Finland, 2016

Dimension - Kilpisjärvi, Finland

I visited Kilpisjärvi in February and while I was there I had the pleasure to go out and explore the landscapes. I had a vision how I wanted to show the landscape. I captured this photograph on my first evening there. It was a quite windy, cold yet quiet environment. Standing in this beautiful scenery alone in the dark was an amazing experience. I captured the scenery using my Vision of Depth technique. Which you can find in my Star Photography Masterclass eBook.

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Sirui Tripod & Ball head. 
Foreground: 4 min 32 sec, f/8 ISO 800, 14 mm
Stars: 30 sec. f/2.8, ISO 1600, 14 mm

Post-Processing

Edit in Lightroom using the Panorama function (see my free tutorial) capturing two horizontal exposures. Edited with Saga Preset Collection (Cold Night). 

How to capture sharp star photographs

Thanks for the email responses for my last tutorial. I got a couple of questions about how do I manage to get sharp images at night of the stars. In this tutorial, I have listed the key elements you have to master when you want to capture most crisp images at night. 

1. Focus

If you want the stars to be sharp and in focus, you need to learn how to focus to infinity. Every lens seems to have a slightly different spot when focusing to infinity or near to infinity. Try focusing in daylight and learn the infinity focus point of your lens. 

  • Capture daylight test images while using the widest possible aperture value
  • Photograph a vast landscape or subject far away
  • Use the live view mode zoomed to refine the focus in manual focusing mode
  • Import the pictures to your computer to examine further

2. Camera Equipment

Use a wide-angle lens with a wide aperture to capture Milky Way and stars. If you are photographing on a windy night, get a decent tripod and use counter weight to keep the tripod steady. You can view my gear recommendations for star photography here: http://www.star-photography-tutorial.com/gear. Here is a quick list on what I recommend getting:

  • Wide-angle lens: View my Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 Review
  • Light sensitive Camera (decent ISO performance) — I tend to use ISO settings up to 8000 
  • Steady Tripod — When you need to get that extra sharpness get a decent tripod
  • Remote controller, or built-in camera timer — If you use the timer set it to five seconds so the camera has enough time to settle before it takes the photograph

Meri-Pori, Finland - Nikon D800, Samyang 14 mm f/2.8

3. Camera settings

The wider your lens is, the longer shutter speed you can use to capture stars without movement. When you need shorter shutter speed, use higher ISO settings. Check out my cheat sheet of camera settings: here.

  • High ISO — I use ISO 3200 - 8000 most of the time
  • f/2.8-4.0 — As wide aperture as possible to capture more light
  • 20-30 sec. exposure — Depending on the lens see the link above

4. Post-Processing sharpening

Use Lightroom to sharpen your images. You can see the settings from the detail panel.

  • Amount 50
  • Radius 1,2
  • Detail 30

My go-to settings for sharpening star images

Don't export full-size images for the web. It's quite often I see people posting full-size jpg files on social media. It's not optimal when you want your images to appear sharp. I prefer using 1080px on Instagram when I upload square format images. 

My export settings for social media

  • Instagram: JPG, 1080px, Standard Sharpen & sRGB
  • Facebook, Twitter: JPG, 1000 px, Standard Sharpen & sRGB
Lost at Night - Mikko Lagerstedt - Nikon D800, Samyang 14 mm f/2.8

Lost at Night - Mikko Lagerstedt - Nikon D800, Samyang 14 mm f/2.8