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Improve your technique: How to expose for pinpoint stars

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Keywords: landscape, night_photography, exposure, guides, tips_and_tricks, shooting_conditions

There is a sweet spot in time every day where magic happens between the sky and the landscape. It is at this point where a photographer can make an exposure that shows pinpoint stars in the sky as well as details in the landscape.

Trying to capture detail in both the landscape and the stars can be difficult, but from about one hour before sunrise to approximately 30 minutes before sunrise there is a sweet spot that allows you to capture enough information in both areas to produce a stunning final image. The process involves great exposure control while you are in the field and a fairly good knowledge of post-processing techniques back at your computer. Using a camera that allows you to shoot RAW files will greatly help, since you’ll need to pull out shadow detail using software once you get back to your office.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8. Exposed at ISO 2500, 10 seconds, f/2.8.
Click on the image for larger view

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