I'll be going to the mountains/D800E/nightsky photography advice request

Started Feb 12, 2013 | Questions thread
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,353
Re: I'll be going to the mountains/D800E/nightsky photography advice request

Judy Stone wrote:

Hi everyone. I'll be 1 week in a mountain far away from any light pollution, except for the moon at certain times :), where the night sky is filled with stars. I'll be taking my D800E with a 14-24 Nikkor lens so to not miss the opportunity. It'll be my first attempt at picturing the skies.

Make it your second. Find somewhere local for your first so that you can answer a lot of the questions for yourself. Your idea of noise will be different to how others see it. It well worth doing everything as a dry run at home first so that you can see and process results on your computer before going out for a shot that matters (makes sense for any type of shooting, discover problems before its too late, gives more chance to ask more questions too).

Would also like to try time lapse photography. Any recommended settings?

Knowing your LCD is the best advice. That way, recommended settings may be fine for starting points, but there are always variables which may make recommended settings totally useless. It always pays to experiment with settings.

I read ISO2000, 30 sec exposure, f2.8, focus set to infinity

Know your lens. Sometimes, when set to infinity, the focus point won't be where you expect it. Chimping your LCD and checking focus is something you need to do. Make sure you have a head torch or something to illuminate your lens with or you won't be able to see the settings!

obviously will work for the individual pictures, and for time lapse set an interval of 20 seconds for the whole night? Won't ISO2000 for 30 sec show noise? Should I use NEF format or JPEG? If I use NEF, won't the buffer overflow? Finally,I read in the manual about INTERVAL TIMER PHOTOGRAPHY and TIME-LAPSE PHOTOGRAPHY, I guess both are the same except the latter involves making a movie of all the individual pictures? Thanks

I don't know anything about time-lapse, but I've used the interval timer. You need to know how it works - on a D300 and D700 the interval starts with the exposure, so for 100 shots with a 1 second gap between exposures you'd need to set the camera to an 25sec exposure and 26 sec interval. It isn't intuitive. But again, test this at home (it doesn't have to be dark), so you understand it. Make sure you set the camera to manual focus or it may try to refocus during interval timers. Very annoying. You won't be able to use in-camera noise reduction for these exposures as it will need to duplicate the length of the original exposure to do a dark correction exposure. Astro types will no doubt be able to explain dark frame subtraction. At 30 seconds, it may not be an issue anyway. Cameras do vary in long exposure noise, the D300 being far more forgiving than the D700.

Battery usage is a big issue with my cameras (I don't have a D800 to compare). For long exposure work I can only do star trails for about 1 hour before the battery runs out. A grip would no doubt help. Temperature will affect the times too as the charge won't last as long if very cold. Make sure you take spares or the night may not last as long as you hoped.

For an all night timelapse you may well need some kind of external power supply - just guessing.

I do everything in raw, so for star trails I batch process in lightroom for lens correction and exposure, then stack in PS with each layer set to lighten. There are more astro friendly progs available for such activities.

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UK wedding photographer in the Lake District
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