More and more people are starting to get involved in night photography or astrophotography with it being one of the fastest-growing photography niches right now. Due to the Nikon d3400 being such a popular DSLR camera body, it should come as no surprise that we are constantly seeing people who own the d3400 reaching out for advice on how they are able to best improve their image quality when capturing photographs at night. Due to seeing so many people asking for advice, we have decided to dedicate this article to our list of Nikon d3400 night photography night photography tips and tricks.
Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible who are looking to get better at night photography and own the Nikon d3400. Although implementing as many of these tips and tricks as possible will definaltey offer you the best results possible when it comes to improving your image quality of the night sky, there is no need to implement every single one. In fact, depending on where you live or the other camera accessories that you have available, you may not actually be able to implement all of our suggestions.
That said though, these tips have a proven track record of being able to help improve the image quality of photographers capturing photographs of the night sky and we are confident that they will also help you with your Nikon d3400. The d3400 is an excellent little camera body and it is most definitely capable of delivering some excellent photographs of the night sky when used correctly.
Consider A Free Online Night Photography Course
This first one is not specific to just people who use the Nikon d3400 but the number one problem that the majority of people fact when trying to improve their night photography image quality is that they usually go about it as if they are capturing photographs in ideal lighting. We see this time and time again and is probably the most common mistake that we see from the photography community but thankfully, it is very easy to fix.
There are a number of excellent photography courses online on platforms such as Skillshare and you are able to enroll on them for free. As we are a verified Skillshare partner, our readers are entiltled to sign up to skillshare via this link and get two months of skillshare premium for free. Skillshare premium offers you some excellent courses that have been created by some of the best photographers in the world and we would highly recommend this night time photography course to our readers.
It only takes around an hour to complete but it can quickly offer a vast improvement to the image quality that you are able to capture with your Nikon d3400 when photographing the night sky. If you go via our link you get access to the course for free and it is one of the highest rated night time photography courses online with a ton of excellent reviews from other photographers who have already completed the course.
It teaches you everything that you could ever need to know about night time photography and the course has plenty of tips in there for both entry level and intermediate level photographers. As you can enroll on the course for free and with it only taking around an hour to complete, we would highly recommend that it be the first port of call for all of our readers looking to get better at night time photography even if they are using a camera body other than the Nikon d3400.
Get Yourself A Lens That Is Ideal For Night Photography
Just behind not understanding the initial principals of night time photography, the second most common issue that we see with photographers looking to get better at photographing the night sky is that they don’t have a suitable lens for the task. Due to the difference in lighting, kit lenses usually fall short and will produce sub-par photographs when using them to capture the night sky.
That said though, there are some excellent lenses available that are budget friendly and can help improve the image quality that you are able to capture with your Nikon d3400. You are also able to pick many of the suitable nighttime photography lenses up for second hand at an even cheaper price point helping you to keep your costs as low as possible too. Investing in a decent lens for your d3400 that has a decent focal length and aperture can be a quick and easy fix to help you drastically improve the image quality of your photographs of the night sky.
We always recommend that any of our readers who use any of the Nikon DSLR camera bodies go with the Rokinon 14mm prime lens as it is probably the best lens out there for night time photography that will mount directly to your Nikon d3400 relative to its price tag. Just keep in mind that the lens is available with mounts for Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and Fuji cameras so if you are picking it up from a local thrift store then check that it is actually the Nikon variant of the lens that you are purchasing.
Invest In A Suitable Tripod
Although the majority of our readers will probably already have a tripod in their collection of d3400 camera accessories, we just want to quickly touch on it for anyone who doesnt. The Zomei z699c is an excellent budget friendly tripod that offers you impressive levels of image stabilization for its price tag but ideally you should be trying to go with something like the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 as it is one of the best tripods ever made in our opinion while only having an intermediate level tripod price tag.
Being able to sit your Nikon d3400 on a tripod to get some much needed image stabilization can help improve your image quality than trying to capture photographs of the night sky with your camera while holding it in your hands. This improvement to your image quality is compounded if you are using a kit lens or another lens with an aperture not suitable for night time photography as it will keep your d3400 perfectly still long enough for the lens to capture the image with the slower aperture helping to keep your image sharp and clear.
Get Yourself A Remote Trigger
Following on from our tripod recommendation above, picking up a cheap, suitable remote trigger for the d3400 can be another solid investment while also helping to get you the best image quality possible. Depending on the type of night photography that you are trying to get involved in, even just the slightest touch of your camera body, even when mounted to a tripod can usually have an effect on the image quality due to the vibrations it causes. Although these are very slight, if you are using a super zoom lens that offers you a 200mm of higher focal length, this can end up having an effect on the photograph you capture.
Try Some ND Filters
This one is going to depend on the type of night photography that you are looking to get involved in with your Nikon d3400 but picking up a decent, cheap ND filter can be a solid tool to help you leave your camera shutter open for longer to capture star trails or other types of movement in the night sky. ND filters are also really useful for any type of night-time photograph involving steel wool too that we will cover in more detail in our next tip.
Although every photographer should be investing in a decent UV filter just for general lens protection, a decent ND filter is more of an optional camera accessory for most photography niches but it does move up towards being a more essential camera accessory for some types of night photography. In addition to night photography, you can also use your ND filter for a number of other photography niches that involve needing to keep your shutter open for longer periods of time such as capturing photographs of water or other moving objects.
Consider Getting Some Steel Wool
Again, this one will depend on the type of night photography that you are trying to get involved in with your d3400 but picking up some steel wool can be a great addition to your nighttime photography camera accessories. As you can see in the photograph above, the usage of steel wool really does add that additional element to the photograph to help bring it to life, you can also see how using an ND filter as we covered above has allowed the photographer to capture the movement of the steel wool burning off as it spins too.
One thing that we would like to quickly add about using steel wool for your night photography is that some countries and states out right ban the use of it, especially in dry seasons due to it being able to easily start fires if not used correctly. That said though, the majority of the time you will be fine to use it but we would recommend that our readers do a quick Google search for their local area to check.
Take Advantage Of The Landscape
The available landscape can definitely make a huge difference in your night photography too allowing you to have something in the foreground, middle ground, and distance of the photograph to add some depth. There are a number of things that you are able to use for this, during the night, most people will use the moon or stars as their main object in the distance of the photograph but you can take a look around your local area for foreground and middle ground objects.
If you are in a rural area, trees and mountains or hills can be a great option, if you are in an urban area then integrating tall buildings, statures, or other common objects can work too. The image below offers an example of how you are able to use this technique to improve your night photography.
Experiment With Manual Focus
We see a large number of people who are new to photography sticking with their auto focus and although some of the modern lenses offer some excellent auto focus systems, they can be a pain for night photography due to the poor lighting causing the systems to continuously track or just totally spoil the photograph. We would highly recommend that you play around with manual focus on your lens as it usually offers a much better photograph when using your Nikon d3400 and lens of choice in low light or nighttime conditions.
Our recommended lens for the d3400 for night photography, the Rokinon 14mm is an excellent bit of kit for this and has an excellent manual focus ring on the lens that is very easy to rotate allowing you to tweak your focus with micro adjustments too. The best part about this tip is that you dont actually have to be out at night to play with your manual focus, you can do it in pretty much every photography niche and the more you do it, the quicker you will be able to build up that feel for it.
Play Around With Your Camera Settings
The Nikon d3400 is a great little DSLR camera body that offers you some solid customization, we would highly recommend that you play around with the camera settings to optimize it for night photography. We would not recommend that you go with one of the benchmark settings that people post online as your specific location and situation will come into play. Our advice is to just get out there and play around during the night and particularly test different ISO settings and shutter speed durations.
Optimise Your Aperture
Another common mistake that we see is people will just use to widest, fastest aperture available on their lens when capturing photographs of the night sky. If you are using a kit lens or a lens with a slow aperture then this is probably going to be your only option but if you have a variable aperture lens then play around with the different speeds at the faster end of the scale. This can be another quick and easy win to help improve the image quality that you are able to capture at night when using your Nikon d3400.
Capture Your Photographs In RAW Format
Although a less common problem that we see is that many people will capture their photographs as JPEG that ends up compressing the image quality and can end up causing issues, especially if you are wanting to do some post production editing. We always advocate for people to capture their photographs in RAW anyway but this is even more important if you are capturing photographs of the night sky with your Nikon d3400 while using a sub-par lens as it will let you clean everything up in post production with ease.
Test Different Levels Of Exposure
Trying different types and different levels of exposure when capturing your photographs can be another quick and easy win when it comes to improving the image quality of your night photography. Again though, this will depend on what you are trying to do, the equipment you have available, and the location that you will be actually capturing your photographs in. There are some excellent videos on YouTube going over how you are able to play around with different types of exposure to have drastic effects on the outcome of your final photograph though.
Plan Your Night Photography Session
The final tip that we have when trying to improve your Nikon D3400 night photography is to actually plan your night photography session ahead of time. We have lost count of the number of times we have seen people say that they trecked out into the middle of nowhere only to find there was low cloud cover or poor visibility. Check the local weather for the area you plan to take photographs of as well as the cycle of the moon to ensure that you will have the best chance possible of capturing the photographs that you want.