summer

Summer Morning Dream

Even though I love to capture the stars and the Milky Way, I love summer mornings. In Finland, summer is so bright that you can't see the Milky Way. I have been photographing mostly on summer mornings and nights recently, and I found that they are full of mystery and beauty. Mist crawling to a field to create a beautiful isolated feeling. I captured this picture a few days ago after photographing the whole night. After a couple of rainy days, the sun made an appearance on this beautiful sunrise. This image was captured in Kerava, Finland. I placed my camera on the tripod and used the camera's self-timer and ran to the scenery. 

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 G ED
ISO 100, 1/100, 14 mm @ f/2.8 

Color edited with my Lightroom Phase Preset Collection: Hazy - Surreal

Mikko Lagerstedt – Summer Morning Dream – Kerava, Finland 2016

2013 in Pictures

Hey everyone, here are my favorite photos published on 2013. 

Thanks for the amazing year! Happy Holidays! :)

Mikko Lagerstedt - Endless Depths - 2013 - Rusutjärvi, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - Dawn - 2013 - Tuusulanjärvi, Finland - Created Using Fog Preset for Lightroom

Mikko Lagerstedt - The End - 2013 - Meri-Pori, Finland - Edge

Mikko Lagerstedt - Night Tracks - Nurmijärvi, Finland - 2013

Mikko Lagerstedt - Night Flight - 2013

Mikko Lagerstedt - On My Way - 2013

Mikko Lagerstedt - Luminescence - 2013 - Meri-Pori, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - Cold Night - 2013 - Meri-Pori, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - Dark Times - 2013 - Kerava, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - Foal - 2013 - Porvoo, Finland - Night Animals

Mikko Lagerstedt - Peacock - 2013 - Porvoo, Finland - Night Animals

Mikko Lagerstedt - Shipwreck - 2013 - Emäsalo, Finland.

Mikko Lagerstedt - Dark Times II - 2013 - Kerava, Finland 

Mikko Lagerstedt - Infinity - 2013

Mikko Lagerstedt - Between Two Worlds - 2013 - Nokia, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - In The Spotlight - 2013 - Järvenpää, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt - Blizzard - 2013 - Kerava, Finland - Created Using Atmosphere Preset for Lightroom

Mikko Lagerstedt - Between Two Worlds II - Nokia, Finland - 2013

If you have any suggestions on tutorials, I would be glad to make some tutorials for you. :)

Couple of days to go on the Preset Christmas Sale.

How To Photograph Stars & Night Sky, Top 5 Tips

 

I got few emails regarding photographing the stars. So here are few of my tips to photograph stars and what I do to plan before going out. If you want to learn more about star photography, check out my eBook: Star Photography Masterclass

 

1. Location Scouting

This is actually the first thing I do when I plan a trip to photograph the stars. There are various tools you can use for this. I mainly use Google Maps to search for a location that would work good in low light situation. This means that it should be somewhere that has low light pollution. I try to find a place that is at least couple kilometers from a small town or 20 kilometers from a city. I sometimes also go out drive around without a specific place in mind to search for an interesting place.

 

Something About a Tree - Hanko, Finland - Nikon D800, 35 mm f/4.0, ISO 6400, 15 sec.

2. Weather Forecast

f course, you cannot really rely on the forecasts, but you will get a quite good look if there will be clouds in the sky. I also recommend using at least couple of different weather forecast sites to have a wider look at the possibilities in a clear sky. 

 

Sometimes there might be some clouds you were not thinking to photograph, but in that case, you could just try out something different if you can't avoid them. Use clouds as a different approach.

Storm Approaching - Kerava, Finland - Nikon D800, 16 mm f/4.0 ISO 100, 25 sec.

3. Timing

Plan the trip for the darkest moments of the night. This is how you will get most out of the stars. The darker it is the more the stars will show in your capture when you have the correct camera settings. Planning a trip when the moon wont be the brightest also is very important if you want to capture stars. Moon can easily get in the way of milky way.

 

4. Equipment & Settings

So this is not a list that you should go and buy, just my tools of use.

Tripod, or something to keep your camera steady for long exposures. I have used quite a few tripods and I really like what I currently have a Sirui Tripod R-4203L and Sirui Ball Head K-40X

Use wide angle lens if you want the stars to appear as dots not trails. My go to lenses for my Nikon D800 are Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 and Nikon 16 - 35 mm f/4.0 VR. By using a remote controller it allows you to use longer exposures than 30 seconds. I use Hähnel Giga T Pro II  for Nikon and it works nicely for my purposes.

As for settings: Always take photos in RAW file format.

Focus to infinity either manually or simply using one bright spot to focus on. Use the widest aperture your lens has as far as the result is not too blurry. Boost up ISO, I would recommend start from ISO 1600 and go up as much as your camera can handle with a decent end result. I tend to take 30 second exposures to have the stars still when you use something like I have above with a full frame camera. For a crop sensor camera I used 11 mm lens with aperture 2.8 and 30 seconds exposure.

 

Balance - Sipoo, Finland - Nikon D7000, 11 mm, f/2.8 ISO 1600, 30 sec.

 

5. Experiment

The last but not least tip is to experiment on a location, and it's lots of fun! So if you have found a location you think fits for the purposes of taking pictures of stars try experimenting with different exposures and perspectives. Don't just settle on one spot try search around if you see something interesting to include in the frame. In fact, I rarely get the shot I was looking for in one shot.. I take multiple shots and experiment with perspectives and subjects. 

 

Blue Night - Kuopio, Finland - Nikon D800, 16 mm, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 30 sec.

Next tutorial, I will give you an example of what kind of settings I use to combine a photo like below. Also some Lightroom 5 tips on making the adjustments on star photos.

If you liked this tutorial feel free to visit my eBook: Star Photography Masterclass

Aurora Borealis

I had the chance to witness these beautiful lights of Aurora Borealis on one Summer night in Hanko, Finland. Usually we don't see these many times in the Southern part of Finland, but this time I got lucky. 

Equipment: 
Nikon D800, Nikon 16 - 35 mm f/4.0 VR
35 mm, f/4.0, ISO 6400 and 10 sec.

Technique & Software:
Manual focusing to infinity on the lens, and because of the strong changes in the Northern Lights, I had to use quite short exposure time to get those beautiful spikes like in the photo in the right side. I used Lightroom 5 to add some contrast and reduce the noise slightly.  

Path

I search for beautiful light and fog while I'm out there - I think this was the case couple of days ago when I took this photo of a misty morning path. I also have a Winter shot of this place, attached below. Thanks for looking. Enjoy your week! :)

Exif: 

1st - Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-300 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 VR @ 115 mm, f/8.0, 1/4 sec, ISO 100.

2nd - Nikon D90 and Nikon 70-300 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 VR @ 70 mm, f/9.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 100.