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I have seen some landscape photographs, that appear to have been done at night but are not silhouettes, that have brilliant star fields behind them.  Supposedly they were done in real time and not a product of Photoshop.  The star fields look as brilliant, and detailed, as the deep space photographs from the Hubbel Space Telescope.  Does anyone know anything about them?  I would love to learn to do it, if it's real.

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I too would love to know the answer to this, i.e. whether the shot is done in camera using a light source to paint the foreground and take just a single exposure or whether 2 or more exposures are taken, for the foreground and sky?

It's all about location. Most of these shots are taken from the tops of mountains or the middle of deserts. The further you are away from light (natural or manmade) the better for these photos. All the shots are exposures that are hours long. I've done a little research and that's just touching on the surface of the subject.


I have seen some incredible work done in this way. And It is definitely real.

Nathan, can you post an example of an image you are talking about please?




Everything in space is moving, and the earth is rotating, quickly.  If the images you have seen are showing the stars as streaks of light, I would expect a long exposure taken in a dark locale.  If the stars are sharp, I would suspect HDR or light painting, or both.
I don't think Nathan is talking about the same thing, this is why I asked him to post an example
Apologies for the delayed response.  I replied earlier but the reply didn't go through.  I don't remember where I saw the referenced photograph, only that it was remarkable.  The maker asserted that he didn't use any special Photoshop technique but it sure had the look.  It depicted a star field and it was very active, meaning that there were a lot of celestial bodies; planets stars etc.  There was no movement to the heavenly bodies so it didn't depict the movement of the planets etc around the north star, which is a common treatment.  It looked as if a deep space photograph, such as from the Hubbel Telescope, was superimposed, as the sky, into a landscape photograph.  As I remember it, the depiction was made on a mountain top in Portugal.
Okay, I went online and found an example from Joshua Tree National Park in California.  I understand that the stone structure is painted with light, possibly using a portable electronic flash.  However I'm a little stunned at the clarity of the sky and question whether it was done using an off the shelf camera or a telescope.  I live in the desert and I've never seen the milky way this brilliant since I was a very young child.
Here's another one.

it looks like a very high shooting location far away from the city pollution; likely that he used a normal camera and a normal lens, normal exposure probably a very high ISO and a very large aperture and about a 20-30 seconds exposure (but I might be wrong!) 

interesting image


Here's a shot I took in my backyard last month.


Without a equatorial mount, you only have about 20 to 25 seconds to do an exposure without the stars streaking in your image.

The darker the night sky the better.

I read some where, don't remember where, you should use a lens less than 50mm and expose for only 20 to 25 seconds.

I find 35mm or less works the best and don't forget to add in your crop factor.

You will want to use a fast ISO so you can get a lot of light really fast. But the higher the ISO the more noise you will get in your image.

You will also want to use your lens wide open and don't forget the coffee.


For this image, these are the settings I used:

Manual Mode @ ISO-200

14mm (21mm @ 35mm) @ f/2.8 for 20 seconds


Give it a try and you will be surprised at what your camera will capture.


 Paul K

good stuff, a wide angle lens offers less camera shake and movement this is why is probably recommend for this kind of images. shutter speed the same, the shorter the more chances you have to capture sharper stars.

why M mode? you can use Aperture priority? I think you can take more shorter exposures @15-20" @ a lower ISO and put them all together and get a brighter image with less noise.


Also, you shoud stay away from moving subjects (like trees) to avoid having movement in the image, I think rocks are much better than the trees. 


What I think is extremely important here is the location. I go to Isle of Sky in December and will give it a go from the highest peak in a clear night.

By the way, I actually just got back from there, some images available in my portfolio. The weather was terrible, well, my favorite: foggy, rainy chilly and windy, wind keeps you safe from midges :))


Ion Paciu


Amazing Deals!

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