At first glance, trying to photograph the night sky can look daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. You just have to bring a wide lens, use a steady tripod, and make sure that your shutter speed is as low as possible.
I’m Caleb, and I have more than four years of photography experience. My camera during that time has been the Canon Rebel T7i, so I know the tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of your own Rebel camera.
In this article, I’ll explain how to take night sky photos and what you’ll have to bring to get a good result.
If you’re planning to get away from the city and you want to learn to capture the night sky and stars, make sure to keep reading.
- What You’ll Need to Take Night Sky and Star Photos with Canon Rebel
- Taking The Photos with Your Canon Rebel
- Editing After The Fact
What You’ll Need to Take Night Sky and Star Photos with Canon Rebel
If you want the best results, you’ll need some gear that you may not be used to using often. First and foremost, you’ll need a tripod to hold your Canon Rebel still.
The sturdier the tripod is, the better. This is one of the most important items, as it will keep your photos from coming out blurry and out of focus. Later in this article, I’ll explain why you use a tripod.
It’s also ideal to have a wide-angle lens or a fisheye lens. You don’t have to use one, but it will give you a wider view of the stars compared to a regular lens and will probably make the final output more appealing.
You should bring a UV filter, too. Because stars emit UV radiation, your camera and lens can suffer damage from being pointed at them during long exposures. It’s easy to use a UV filter to mitigate this problem, as it screws right onto the end of your lens.
Picking a Location
After you’ve decided what to bring, you should also spend some time thinking about where you’re going to take the pictures.
Light pollution affects our view of the stars, which is why you’ll rarely see a starry night over a city with plenty of lights.
There are plenty of destinations worldwide that are well known as great stargazing spots, but you don’t need to take a long trip to find someplace that works.
Mainly, your goal should be to get away from light pollution. A state or national park might work well for this.
Of course, if you already live in a rural area where light pollution isn’t as much of a problem, you might not have to consider this step.
Taking The Photos with Your Canon Rebel
The first thing you should do is switch your Canon Rebel to manual mode if you aren’t already using it. Manual mode gives you finer control over your camera’s settings, and you’ll need this control to get ideal results.
In manual mode, you’ll have the option to change each setting that makes up the exposure triangle – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.
Generally, you’ll want to keep the ISO low without going low enough that your photos come out underexposed.
While having a higher ISO setting will make it easier to shoot in low light conditions, it will also result in a less sharp and more grainy output.
The ISO being too high can also result in overexposed photos that look like they have a layer of white haze over them. That’s also something that we want to avoid.
You should use a very slow shutter speed when taking photos of the night sky. Speeds of 5 to 10 seconds might be ideal, which is why you need the tripod. Ideally, you should also activate your Canon Rebel’s shutter remotely to avoid touching the camera and causing any unnecessary movement.
Shutter speed measures how long the camera shutter stays open when taking the picture, and movement while the shutter is open will generally ruin your shot. This is why you should use the tripod for this part and avoid touching the Canon Rebel camera directly.
While it might be easy to keep the camera still when the shutter is only open for 1/500th of a second, that same task becomes nearly impossible to do by hand when the shutter is open for a longer time, like 5 seconds.
The slower your shutter speed, the less light you need. Your slower shutter speed will help you get a good-looking result even in the low-light environment with your Canon Rebel.
You should also use a lower aperture. While having a higher one can add more sharpness and clarity to your image, a higher aperture also requires more light. When taking photos in a low-light environment, it’s usually better to keep the aperture low on your Canon Rebel.
Additionally, the contrast and depth of field provided by a higher aperture setting matters less in star photography compared to some other photography styles.
There’s not as much to gain from turning it up, so it’s best to leave it on a lower number.
While some combinations of settings generally work better than others for certain situations, there’s no universal list of settings that will perform the best every time.
It all depends on several factors, such as your specific camera and lens as well as the environment that you’re taking pictures in.
Not every night sky is the same, and you should spend a bit of time playing around with the settings to find what’s ideal for you.
Editing After The Fact
If you want, you can stop and call it a day as soon as you’re done taking the pictures with your Canon Rebel.
However, if you want to go a step further and enhance your final results even more, you can import the photos into a program like Adobe Lightroom and edit many things, such as the exposure and the color balance.
If you really want to get the most out of your photos and bring them up to a professional standard, touching them up in an editing program may be a good idea.
Astrophotography is a large subject, and we couldn’t cover everything in this guide. Here are some of the other frequently asked questions about the subject.
Do I Need to Modify My DSLR For Astrophotography?
You don’t need to modify your DSLR to take photos of the night sky or the stars. However, modifications do exist for star photography enthusiasts. You should be careful, though, as these will usually void your camera’s warranty.
How Do You Take Star Trail Photos?
Star trail photography is based on the concepts we went over in the shutter speed section of this article. To take star trail photos, you should use a sturdy tripod and use as slow of a shutter speed as you can.
What Is A Full Spectrum Camera?
A full spectrum camera is a camera that has been modified to capture more of the light spectrum. Sometimes, these cameras produce better results in star photography.
You’ll have to approach night sky photography with your Canon Rebel camera a bit differently than you would daytime photography. Still, the underlying concepts behind it are simple and easy to pick up.
Do you have any questions about the process or thoughts on astrophotography as a niche? Don’t forget to tell us about it in the comments.