Digital SLR cameras allow us to capture images of the night sky impossible or difficult to take a few years ago with film. In this 5-hour workshop, I  take you through the steps needed to capture beautiful landscape scenes at night – "nightscapes" – that include the Northern Lights, meteor showers, and the Milky Way, using no more than the equipment you already own: a DSLR camera and a tripod. The same gear can also be used to take stunning time-lapse movies of the stars turning or clouds moving above a moonlit landscape. I show you how to shoot and assemble these movies, from simple techniques to advanced methods with motion control dollies and bulb-ramping devices.

 

Included are tips and techniques on ...

 

  • setting your DLSR camera for minimum noise and maximum detail
  • making use of moonlight and knowing where the Moon will be
  • shooting sky events such as conjunctions, aurora, and meteor showers
  • capturing the Milky Way over a photogenic landscape
  • how to track the stars for even greater detail in the sky
  • setting intervals and exposures for effective time-lapse shooting
  • processing nightscapes, including layering composite shots
  • stacking images to create long-exposure star trails
  • shooting motion-control movies with pan/tilt and dolly systems
  • avoiding frame-to-frame flicker in time-lapse movies
  • creating the "holy grail" time-lapse: the day-to-night transition
  • processing the hundreds of images of a typical time-lapse sequence
  • assembling the frames into a final movie
  • recommended workflows for nightscape and time-lapse processing

 

Using recent images I've shot, I work through specific examples to demonstrate how to process still images and time-lapse movies using both the common and the little-known functions of Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom, as well as specialized programs such as LRTimeLapse and StarStax, and Photoshop plug-ins such as Advanced Stacker Actions.

 

Alan specifically covers how to ...

 

  • select full frame vs. cropped frame DSLRs
  • select lenses (zooms vs. primes) for nightscapes
  • set exposure and interval to balance noise, sharpness, and clip length
  • calculate frame rate and count for desired time-lapse movie length
  • shoot RAW vs. JPG format images
  • select specialized camera control software and intervalometers
  • shoot and assemble multi-frame panoramas of the night sky
  • include the Moon and planets to make interesting nightscapes
  • calculate where the Moon will be to illuminate your scene
  • use moonlight or artificial light to illuminate a nightscape
  • avoid common problems at the camera, such as dust and dew
  • frame and focus at night
  • take and apply dark frames to reduce noise
  • power gear in the field
  • stack short exposures to create star trails
  • create accumulating star trail movies
  • select the best final movie frame rates and formats
  • perform a "bulb ramp" to take smooth day-to-night transitions
  • use tracking mounts and platforms, and recommended units
  • use motorized mounts (such as the Sky-Watcher All-View,  Radian, and eMotimo devices) to create movies that pan and tilt across the scene
  • use motorized dolly rails such as the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero system to incorporate "Hollywood-style" camera moves
  • post-process frames with specialized tools such as Sequence and LRTimeLapse to remove flicker and apply transitions over a clip
  • use Photoshop and other programs to assemble and process movies

NEXT NIGHTSCAPES & TIME-LAPSE WORKSHOP:

TBA

See All-Star Telescope's page for details on our new

 4-hour "Nightscapes and Time-Lapse" Video Course