Night Photography

Mike Takes On The Moose

Mike Takes On The Moose
  • If you’ve been following our reviews, you know we really like backpacks from MindShift Gear (a division of Think Tank Photo) because they work great for the adventures we like to do. I've been reviewing their packs for a few years now and the latest model I chose was the Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0. There is a bigger version (than the MP-3 and a smaller version as well) but this model felt like the perfect size for my needs.

  • I'll be honest in saying that I did not buy this backpack. I had the opportunity to review it for MindShift Gear / Think Tank Photo and I was happy to do so. That said, I'm including my honest opinions on it without restraint. If there are areas where it did poorly, I will not hesitate to say so.

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Night Photography 2.0

Night Photography 2.0

For most people, night photography started with a digital camera…  following in the footsteps of others who inspired us to get out and shoot in the dark.  Our images were a little noisy and that reminded us that the higher ISO settings can give us more noise.  With that, we accepted that nightscape images are generally more noisy (than daytime landscape images) because of the limits of the cameras we have available.

Introducing Stacking To The World

Astronomers have had some ability to "stack" multiple exposures to reduce noise for years.  This is where we take advantage of the fact that the location of the noise dots on each exposure is different and this allows us to sort of "average" them together to get the noise dots to disappear where the points of light just reinforce each other.  The result is significant noise reduction - although the software that does this is generally very expensive and overly complicated.

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Red Lights Are Evil

Red Lights Are Evil

We generally have a positive and encouraging approach with people we meet.  But when something needs to be said...  well, you know.

A little while ago, I was in Badlands National Park shooting what I thought was going to be epic clouds, and stars under the moonlight.  A group of ladies showed up and parked their cars a little ways away. Then they got out of their cars, turned on their red headlamps, and walked past me (on my right) looking out into the area where I was shooting.

After my image exposed and I saw the horror, I kindly walked over and asked If I could make a suggestion. They said sure... I told them about the bleed in the red headlamps and that it would be very nice of them to use a dimmer white light. I also mentioned in the kindest way possible that if the white light gets into the scene you can fix it much easier in PS than you can the red light. They nodded and said ok but I could tell they weren't buying it...

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Stacking App Review - Finding The Best Stackers

Stacking App Review - Finding The Best Stackers

While astronomers have some good alternatives for stacking multiple exposures to reduce noise, the apps they use are generally expensive and complicated to use.  For these reasons, I tend to like using Photoshop to handle stacking my images.  Other options have been limited and hard to get excited about.  Over the past few years however, the quality of our options and my opinions of them have changed significantly.

Background
Wide-field astrophotographers have looked to Adobe Photoshop to handle their stacking needs for years.  It hasn't been a perfect fit but when combining 4 or so exposures to reduce noise, it's been an effective tool in reducing noise.  For those people who like to stack more than 4, staying with Photoshop pushes most people past the limits of their Photoshop skills.  And in looking at 3rd party alternatives, there simply haven't been good alternatives available since most of them are expensive and complicated to learn and use.

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What Are The Best Lenses For Night Photography? Updated 2017

What Are The Best Lenses For Night Photography? Updated 2017

Several years ago, we posted an article titled "Recommended Lenses For Night Photography" that a lot of people found helpful.  Since then, a lot has changed that affects the lenses my training partner Darren White and I most like to recommend as the best choices so I decided that this original article deserved an update with the latest information and recommendations.

Background
As a night photography workshop instructor, I'm committed to getting great nightscape images.  And while we believe that the best images come from a combination of great composition, great technique, and having an eye for  great image, having good gear certainly helps to make a difference.  we think the gear is secondary to these first three items but it does help.  We get a lot of questions from our students about what gear works best and so we like to have some good answers for them.  On the approach to our workshops, we often get asked if we were to recommend one single lens, which one we would recommend to help students get the best shots possible.

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Recommended Techniques For Noise Reduction

Recommended Techniques For Noise Reduction

Why Is Noise Reduction Such a Big Deal?

Noise is a big consideration in shooting pictures at night.  We push our cameras to capture the best details possible in dark conditions and the result can often be a little noisy.  What can you do about it?  Well, part of the answer lies in the shooting techniques but there's more on the post-processing side as well.  In the end, photographers have some good options available to them.

One of the challenges in using noise reduction is that there are so many options available to us.  In-fact, with all the different approaches available for reducing noise in nightscape images, it can be a downright confusing to know what to use when.  Darren and Mike got together and tested some of the most common methods available to determine what would be best to recommend and when.

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What To Look For In A Headlamp For Night Photography

What To Look For In A Headlamp For Night Photography

It feels like a lot of the ads for headlamps lately really seem to push how bright they are and I've started to cringe at that.  It's not that I mind a bright headlamp, it's just that for the most part headlamps are already bright enough in my view and I'd really like to see people get more control over the lower intensities...

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The Best Flashlight For Light Painting

The Best Flashlight For Light Painting

Background
A little while back, I posted an article where I reviewed the Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight for light painting.  At that point, it was the best light I'd seen for night photography and it became my favorite "brush" for light painting.  The neutral to warm tint and the gentle, even cast of light worked well in a variety of light painting situations.

Problems With Availability
Not long after posting the article, supplies for the dual xenon spotlight dried up.  I had stirred the interest in people's minds but now they couldn't find the light.  As a result, I've had a pretty steady stream of people asking for an alternative light.  And while, my dual xenon spotlight still works great for me, I felt the need to help find a good light to recommend to others so I decided to take another look at which light would be a best choice for the night photographer looking to add some light painting...

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Blending Multiple Exposures In Photoshop - Video Tutorial

Blending Multiple Exposures In Photoshop - Video Tutorial

A first ever release from Colorado Captures...  a video tutorial showing how to blend multiple exposures in Photoshop. It's intended more for night photography students but with several blending techniques included, it's useful for landscape and photographers in general.  Your sharing and feedback on this post is very much appreciated and encouraged.  :-)

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Mike's Super Long-Exposure Cheat Sheet

Mike's Super Long-Exposure Cheat Sheet

There are lots of different ways to shoot night photography.  We have the relatively short duration exposure (usually 30 seconds or less) where we get to see details in the night sky as points of light.  Then we have the star trail images where we shoot for a little longer and we stack multiple exposures so we get the stars to appear as trails in a way that's effective at reducing noise.  Both of these approaches open the shutter for a period of time that doesn't usually exceed 2 to 3 minutes - often less.  Part of the theory behind this is that multiple exposures are more effective at reducing noise than a single super long-exposure - even with long-exposure noise reduction enabled.

The Super Long-Exposure
In this article, I'm not letting the issue of sensor heat stop me from trying a really long exposure.  I'll make use of some long-exposure noise reduction to help address that issue.  I want to see what it looks like when I expose my shutter to light for 16 minutes or even 32 minutes.  The human eye is limited to ultra-short exposure times so we can't see much color at night.  But when the shutter is opened for half an hour, the results can be very interesting...

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