When I went on my latest holiday, I decided to take along my camera and take some time-lapses of the beautiful sky. Here are some tips on how to capture stunning night sky time-lapse videos.
Get the right camera.
To make a time-lapse video, you need a camera that can shoot fast moving images and then capture multiple exposures over several hours. High quality photos and movies can be taken using a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). The ideal model is capable of high definition (HD) 1080p video with a full-frame sensor that takes still photographs. The camera should also include a timer and a tripod for steady shooting. It’s important to use a camera with a wide zoom range and variable aperture settings to capture the entire sky. The aperture should remain stable so the sky appears sharp. The camera should also allow you to manually adjust focus and exposure. The camera’s controls must also be easy to read and understand.
Get the right equipment.
The tripod is a must. Use a sturdy, stable tripod for your camera and keep it at the same angle each time you take a photo. It can be tricky to keep your camera still during the night, so the tripod needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the camera and your hands while shooting. The camera’s self-timer will let you capture the action at the same time as you press the shutter button. The best self-timers have multiple exposure options, so you can fire off several shots without having to rewind the video afterwards. For optimal results, use a remote release cable.
Use a tripod.
If you want to get really good pictures, then it’s important to use a tripod. Not only will this steady your camera, but it will also make the images clearer and less blurry. Tripods come in a range of sizes and prices. You can either buy one or invest in some basic photo or video accessories. Check the tripod for its stability, especially if you plan to shoot at high angles.
Take the camera out of the box.
Make sure you put your camera in the correct mode (auto or manual). If you are planning to shoot a night sky time-lapse video, make sure you set the timer on your camera before you start shooting. Otherwise, you’ll end up with many of those annoying black frames.
Once you have shot the footage, you can’t hurry it. The images need to be developed and processed, and this takes time. Try to be patient and not panic if the first image doesn’t look great. Just keep shooting and editing until you are happy with the final result.
Set the aperture.
To capture a clear image of the stars, the camera’s aperture (the size of the hole in the lens) needs to be open as wide as possible. This means the images will be bright and you will need to shoot for a long time. However, if you increase the amount of light entering the lens, the shutter speed (the length of time the shutter remains open) will need to be reduced. So, if you are shooting a time-lapse video, you will need to balance the two factors: you need to be able to capture the stars but you will need to reduce the amount of movement caused by the stars moving across the sky. You can experiment with the settings on your camera to find the ideal balance between the two.
Use the right ISO.
The ISO setting on your camera will control how sensitive the sensor is to light. When you shoot a night sky time-lapse video, you will need to choose a low ISO. For example, for a full moon night sky video, you will need an ISO of 100 or 200. This is because the moon causes more light than the stars. If the ISO is too high, the sensor will struggle to cope and the resulting images will be very noisy and not sharp.
Choose the right focal length.
When shooting a night sky time-lapse video, it’s important to select a focal length that lets you capture a wider view of the night sky. Try experimenting with the focal length until you get the image you want. If you are shooting a wide panorama, then you will need to shoot several short shots (at around 10 seconds each) and stitch them together in post-production.
Get some fresh batteries.
If you are using a flash, you may have to recharge it often. Use fresh batteries and make sure it’s working properly. This will ensure you get the best results.
Consider using a filter.
If you are planning to shoot a night sky time-lapse video, you can use a neutral density (ND) filter to darken the sky. ND filters will make it easier to see the stars and make your images sharper.
Use the right time.
At some point during the night, the Milky Way will appear in the sky. This is because the Earth’s position is directly above the center of the galaxy. To capture the Milky Way in your time-lapse video, you will need to make sure you take the images when the sky is dark enough. Look out for the full moon and twilight hours, and avoid photographing the moon.
Keep your camera close to your face.
Your camera may look like a bulky device, but it’s actually a very compact device. A lightweight camera should be placed close to your face, so it will stay steady and allow you to get the best shots. To get the most from your camera, make sure you focus on your subject and don’t accidentally press the wrong buttons.
Choose the right location.
The most obvious place to shoot a time-lapse video is at night, but remember that the moon is also a popular subject for nighttime photos. A dark, open field will be your best bet, so that you can easily see the stars and the Milky Way. Make sure the ground is flat, clean and dry. Remove any objects in the path of the camera.
Pay attention to lighting.
The best time to take a time-lapse video is during a clear, moonless night. Try to capture a starry sky and the Milky Way, which you can see after dark. The best light source will vary according to the location, so use the moon as a guide. In the north-east, the moon rises just after dusk, so it’s best to shoot then. In the south-west, the moon sets before dawn, so shoot early evening. Look for an area of low cloud, a hilltop or a building with an unobstructed view.
Choose the right the right settings.
Use the settings that will let you capture the most stars. To achieve the widest possible field of view, use a wide-angle lens. For maximum light sensitivity, set your ISO (the speed at which your camera captures the light) to 200 to 400. Set your aperture to f/8 to f/11. If your lens doesn’t provide manual adjustments, use apertures of f/4 to f/6.3. If you are shooting with a DSLR, set the shutter speed to at least 1/60th of a second, preferably 1/90th.
Choose the right camera apps.
There are a number of free and paid apps that you can use to take amazing pictures. The key is to pick one that lets you combine different settings, such as exposure, focus and white balance, to capture the stars. Make sure you use an app that allows you to capture multiple images automatically. It’s also important to use a smartphone, rather than a camera, to take the photos. They are easier to handle, take better pictures, and are more reliable.
Use the right software to create time-lapse videos
A time-lapse software will help you to merge the images into one video. There are many programs to choose from, such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. There are a few different ways of doing this. You can create a single image file from all your images. Or you can shoot the same scene, but in multiple locations, then import the photos into the program and stitch them together. Finally, you can shoot multiple videos and then import the photos into the same program and join them into a single time-lapse video. Choose the method that works best for you.
Post-processing is neccessary.
After you have finished your editing, make sure you can preview the result. Play back your video in slow motion to check that it is bright and clear. Make sure that the background is black or dark gray, so that you don’t have any unwanted objects appearing in the frame.