The rising Instagram culture has led many to use their cameras creatively. People are now choosing aesthetic themes and items to shoot and post on their portfolios. One such niche that current photographers are giving a lot of attention to is astrophotography.
People are fond of beautiful night sky shots and usually demand the photographer capture more of such divine scenes. However, many aren’t aware of the hard work that goes behind one good night sky’s shot. Astrophotography is probably one of the most challenging skills to master and requires one to spend a lot of energy and time.
Many novice photographers think investing in an exceptionally powerful camera and related equipment can help them master astrophotography. This leads them to spend a lot of their money on buying expensive cameras, lenses, and tripods.
Such a perception is wrong. The truth is, anyone with a decent camera can easily ace the night sky shoots. The secret to taking perfect pictures is not always a good camera. Instead, your skills and how you work with your camera is what matters the most.
You can easily take perfect shots with an affordable camera like Nikon D40 just by knowing some basics of shooting the night sky. Nikon D40 is a compact and easy-to-use digital camera that is considered excellent for astrophotography. It comes packed with features that can make your night time shots perfect in every way. Some of such notable features include the 6 MP DX CCD, 3D color matrix meter, wide ISO range, auto ISO detection, three AF sensors, and a powerful magnifier.
Here are some useful tips that you can follow while shooting with your Nikon D40 to make your nighttime shots breathtakingly perfect.
Use Low ISOs
Any picture of the nighttime sky taken by someone inexperienced either looks too bright or too dull. Most of the time, such an image comes with a lot of “noise” in it. It has some fly-like marks on it and, despite being a perfectly angled shot, it looks untidy. All of this happens because the photographer has snapped the picture without setting the camera’s ISOs.
Another reason for this could be an inappropriate white balance that makes the night sky’s shot look bland. Not using the right ISOs and white balance settings ruins your nighttime shots. Learning these two tricks is essential if you want to master astrophotography.
ISO refers to any camera’s ability to measure the light that’s coming towards its lens. Keeping the ISO range at low means that the sensors would capture less light. As a result, the captured picture would’ve less brightness. This will make the image look real and better and explains why you should always use lower ISO for a night ime shot. An ISO level set at less than 800 is usually considered perfect for astrophotography.
On the other hand, a cooler white balance is also essential for the night sky’s shoot. Usually, a camera with a white balance between 2800 °K-4000 ºK is considered perfect. It elaborates on the whites of the picture that makes the dark sky look even better.
Most of the modern cameras allow easy setup of ISOs and white balance. Thankfully, the Nikon D40 is one of those. It offers easy white balance management and has a wide range of ISO options. You can either set the ISO level yourself or let the D40’s custom auto ISO do its magic to help you make the perfect night time shots.
Bulb Mode Is Essential
Not learning the basics of your camera’s Bulb mode is one of the worst mistakes you can commit as an astrophotographer. If you’ve ever observed the night sky closely, you can tell how the stars and other elements keep changing their position from time to time. This means that you’ve to keep your camera ready to capture your desired position of stars and other elements throughout the night.
The bulb mode of your camera helps you in this regard. Using this mode, you can keep your camera’s shutter held open for as long as you want. This helps you always keep your camera ready to shoot the exact moment without a delay of even a microsecond.
Anyone who knows even a bit about astrophotography can’t deny the importance of bulb mode in acing the night sky shots. The problem with using this mode is that you usually need to keep the shutter open for hours and even till the dawn. Even when you can do it with the help of thumb, holding a button pressed for this long is almost impossible. This is why we have remote controls to do that for us. Using remote controls for shutter control means you’ve to first learn everything about the usage.
Other than the remote control’s usage, there are some other bulb mode features that you can’t use correctly without practice. Therefore, it is essential to understand your D40’s bulb mode well before using it for shoots.
Learning and mastering the bulb mode with Nikon D40 is very easy. This camera has features like wide connectivity range and faster processing to make a smooth bulb mode usage possible. The ease of use of this camera also makes the practice of bulb mode easier.
Patience is the key to success when you’re learning any new skill. Practicing patience becomes more critical when you’re learning something as complex as nighttime photography. Taking magnificent shots of galaxies and heavenly celestial photos is only possible after you spend a lot of time mastering the tricks to capture them perfectly. The learning process takes time and requires a lot of attention and hard work on your part.
All of this requires you to be patient and face all the obstacles with resilience. As someone beginning to learn astrophotography, you must be ready to face a lot of failures even when you’re being guided by an expert. It’s important to know beforehand that sometimes you will end up spending an entire night outside trying to capture what matters.
Despite that, you may not have a single good shot by dawn. Our advice to you is not to leave hope and to keep on practicing. Eventually, your patience will make you reach the level of perfection.
Having a user-friendly camera like the Nikon D40 can make this practice of patience easier. The camera comes with features especially useful for beginners in their learning and has an interactive user interface. All these things don’t let the user get tired or bored with the camera, and they can easily keep on practicing their passion.
Get Ready To Travel
Pollution and extremely tall buildings in the cities have made it almost impossible to capture clear skies at night time. This forces the astrophotographers to travel somewhere with clean air and clear skies.
Usually, the best night time shots are taken either in wild surroundings or in the mountainous regions with lesser clouds. This makes it essential for every night time photographer to be mentally prepared for traveling. Sometimes, you might have to travel to multiple places in one night to take a perfect shot. This traveling is necessary not just for experts but also for new photographers.
All these traveling requirements mean that you need to keep a bag always ready. Over time, traveling to different places will make you knowledgeable enough to know the perfect time to travel to a particular place and increase your expertise. A travel-friendly camera can make this traveling hiatus way easier.
The Nikon D40 is one such camera with a strong build and portable, lightweight body that you can easily take along for such expeditions. It takes a little space in your backpack and, therefore, can be your greatest astrophotography partner.
Frame Pictures Well
How good your night sky’s shot turns out has a lot to do with how you framed it in the camera. Framing, which refers to the positioning of visual elements in a picture, affects your picture’s aesthetics. Depending on how well or poorly you frame the shot, your shot could do incredibly well or be ignored. All the award-winning astrophotographers pay a lot of attention to framing since the first day of practice.
Other than your own creative nerve, your camera can play a significant role in helping you choose and set a good frame. The features like grid screen, exposure, color contrast, and magnification can either make a frame look attractive or bland depending on what you’ve chosen. This helps you decide if your chosen frame can be changed a bit to look better or if you should not use it at all.
Thankfully, anyone having Nikon D40 has an advantage in selecting a good frame. The camera comes with a compelling magnification feature. Its 2.5-inch wide 230,000 pixels LCD monitor can show you the shot being captured in its best composition and angle. All these features can help you decide if the frame you selected is worth it or not.