Night sky photos made simple 

1st October 2016, 05:31pm

If you love the idea of taking photos of the sky at night, selected Canon compact cameras have several star mode settings that make shooting the sky at night as simple as pushing a button.

In this tutorial, Phil Hart, David Malin Astrophotography Awards winner, guides you through shooting the night sky using Canon's ultimate compact camera - the PowerShot G1X Mark II.

To access the star modes on the camera change the mode dial to the special C modes and then use the step control ring at the front and scroll across to star mode. 

Under star mode, there's actually four options: star portrait, star nightscape, star trail and star time lapse movie. You can select them by pushing the down arrow on the control ring on the back. In all four star mode settings, the camera needs to be on a steady tripod in order to get a clear, stable shot of the night sky. 

Star portraits

A star portrait is designed for taking a picture of a person in front of the stars. The camera will use the flash to illuminate that person and then combine that with a longer exposure to record detail in the sky. To take a star portrait, push the down button, pop up the flash using the button on the side, frame your shot, line up your portrait subject and press the shutter. 

Star nightscapes

A star nightscape is probably the setting that you'll use the most. It's just basically taking a landscape photo at night under long exposure to record detail in the sky. To get there, push the down arrow and scroll across or just touch the screen to select star nightscape. All you have to do is frame out the shot. The camera is going to determine the exposure so you simple need to push the shutter. You'll find that if you're shooting in the city or under moonlight, the default settings for the nightscape should work really well. But if you're under a dark sky, you can get more detail and a longer exposure by using exposure compensation. To set up the exposure compensation (the up button on the dial) scroll across and use anything up to plus two stops exposure compensation. Then press the set button and take the photo again. This will use a longer exposure and record more detail and under a dark sky, it will often give you a better result.

 

Star trails

A star trail image is a long exposure that records trails of the stars as they move through the sky. To get to that setting hit the down or the ISO button, scroll across and hit set. The time for this total exposure is shown on the bottom of the LCD screen. You can increase or decrease that by using the continuous ring on the lens. Once you set the exposure time that you want, simply press the shutter and the sequence will start. 

Star time lapse movies

Time lapse movies of the sky at night takes a series of still images and renders that into a video file that you can watch playback. To get to the time lapse movie mode, push the down button or the ISO button, scroll across and choose a time lapse movie. And when you're ready to start, push the video record button on the top right. 

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