My first LONG night exposure

Discussion in 'Nature' started by mikepalo, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. For starters I would like to apologize if this is in the wrong section. I couldn't quite find a section that fits this question exactly, but here I go....
    I am shooting with a Nikon D200 and a Tokina 10-17 Fisheye lens, I will be using a tripod and a Hand held trigger. I am planning on setting the camera to a 8-hr Bulb exposure.
    There is a meteor shower happening on august 12th and I want to do a long exposure of around 8 hrs and I was wondering what settings should i set the camera on as to no over/under expose the meteor shower. The night will be 1 day before the new moon and I will be well away from city lights. I am intertested in shoothing this shot on alligator alley in the middle of the state of florida for anyone who is not familiar with the florida lights except MAYBE some glow from the highway im not sure on that yet.
    Let me knwo what you think about the camera settings.
    Thank You
    Michael Palozzola
  2. Well, if there will be alot of them it will just be a ton of streaks. I suggest go out there before it starts and start setting up. To set up things for me takes about 10 min. Point it at the sky, probably the 10mm end. And make use f8 at 10sec or 30sec. That way you get some of the streaks and not all of them in a single picture. You could play around with it. But I suggest set it to infinity and just keep snapping away durring the shower.
    Have some fun and play with the settings a bit.
  3. Michael,
    I am no expert but I have been playing around with long night exposures for awhile now, here are some things you might want to consider.
    The moon is full on august 5th you might want to check and see what phase the moon will be on August 12th, the peak of the perseids meteor shower. A good website for this info is if you log in and give your location, then you can find out what time the moon rises and sets for that day. If the moon will be bright, you might want to consider shorter exposures, and stack them together. Also, while looking at the night sky you will see that the perseids meteor shower will seem to come from the direction of the contellation perseus, this will probably be the direction you will want to point your camera to get the most meteors. if you dont know where to look for perseus, find a night sky chart and start going outside at night ahead of time so you can find out. Another thing, if your lens doesnt have infinity focus or if it doesnt focus on infinity in the right place,( that is marked on the lens) You should practice focusing on the stars, because autofocus probably will not work for this ( at least on my camera). I find the best way to do this is when you think it is focused, check your photo on the lcd, and zoom in to see if you have them in focus. Something I havent tried is maybe you could try focusing on the moon, to get the correct focus? I think you should go outside and start practicing, a few nights before the shower, or even now. I hope this helps.
  4. A single 8h bulb exp will run over. E.g. this was done at a place with the most dark sky on earth, yet it is a composite of 64 ten minute exposures (plus I don't know how much editing).
    There are more suggestions in this thread
  5. Something I didnt think about, of course perseus will not be stationary in the night sky because the earth will be turning! Maybe just in the general direction during the peak. Or if you want star trails like the picture posted in the above thread, just point it at polaris.
  6. Can't help with the exposure metering, however last I tried even a 15 minute bulb exposure, the camera used up a fair bit of battery power - I think you may need an external power source, if you haven't got one already.
  7. whatever you do, don't kick the d*mn tripod leg walking back to the camera....
    if your lens doesnt have an inifity marker (no focus scale) you can focus on something that is definitely outside the lenses range, beyond infinity, and then your pictures will be in focus.
  8. Glitchy double post sorry....
  9. Thank you all for your input u've brought up alot of things I did not think of.
    Ok sooo i won't be doing 1x 8hr exposure but I will be there for the full second half of the night(12-8am) and I was wondering will the 2 batteries be enough for the 6-8hrs or so of shooting 10 minute exposures?
    Dan- That really sounds like u have personal experience with kicking the tripod urself :p ...
  10. Noise will be a problem with very long exposures with a digital camera. If you still have a 35mm film camera in the closet use that instead. Film still has it's advantages and extremely long exposure photography is one of them.
  11. I dont think your battery will last 8 hours. More like a few at best. I believe Harold Davis who posts on this site and teaches a night photography seminar at Pt Reyes uses an ac adapter to eliminate the in camera battery issue. If you are shooting away from wired ac power, perhaps plugging the ac adapter into something like a vagabond II might work.
  12. The trouble with long exposures, is that is there is even the slightest hint of light pollution, your camera will start to pick it up. Also, heat from your camera's CCD will build up and create artifacts after a while. Usually it's better to take short exposures mainly for the above reasons.
    You will also find that catching a meteor (unless you are lucky and there is an outburst/storm - unlikely this year) with your camera is quite hard. To increase your chances, you want multiple cameras, fast lenses and high ISOs.
    There is some software here that will help u decide which camera/lens combination works best:
    I run multiple cameras and power them with a 12V battery (a "small" automotive type will easily keep 2-3 cameras going all night) and an inverter. Dew forming on the lens can also be a problem so I have anti-dew heaters for all my cameras that are powered by another battery.
    A few more tips -
    The longer meteors will appear further away from Perseus, so aim longer lenses closer to Perseus, and vice versa.
    The longest meteors occur when it's starting to get dark (when the Perseid meteor shower "radiant" is on or near the horizon) and are called "earth grazers", but are usually few and far between. They will appear to shoot upwards from the horizon in the East, or sometimes travel horizontally along the horizon from East to South or East to North.
    As the night wears on the meteors usually tend to get more numerous, but also shorter and apparently swifter.
    Get away from light pollution, and if possible shoot at altitude. That will help this year since there is less atmosphere to shoot through, and it should help cut down on the amount of scattered moon light (and other light pollution).
    Hope that helps.
  13. Michael,
    Well no one has mentioned it so I will. Unless Alligator alley has changed drastically from when I was there several years ago, I would be looking down as much as I would be up. Alligators might just like to hang out with you, plus snakes and of course wonderful mosquitos and other bugs. I assume you have taken all that into consideration. (?)
    My one experience with an alligator there and his explosive and lighting fast move will never leave me. (I was safely away from him, he just thought I was too close and in about 1 sec was 30 feet away in the water.)
    Just thought I should mention it!..:)
  14. I know this is much later but i figure id at least post an update for anyone who checks in. I went out and shot for the shower. We where there for about 8hrs. It actually turns out that I was wrong on the moon it was a half moon which rose around midnight :( .... made my life difficult all night. I did not shoot a LONG exposure due to the forseen issues of battery power and light pollution (some from the distant city and most from the moon). Throughout the night I shot about 50 3minute exposures at all different settings, I did end up getting one meteor in frame around 4:30 am. The moon was high and the light from the city in the distacne was more bothersome then expected. but here is my first sorry the shot is a little soft I realized at the end of the night I'd palmed the lens at one point, leaving some shot softening oils on my lens, my mistake, always check your optics.
    Jim - Yes I did take gators and snakes into mind when doing this. I have lived in Florida for quite a few years so I am well used to them. The location I found which was well off the main highway was a good one even though we could hear baby gators all north and south of us all night, they and their mothers kept their respective distances all night luckily. The mosquito's were bad but with a bit o heavy duty bug spray they left us alone for the most part. It was the mud I ended up having to worry about more then the wildlife, I actually sunk my jeep in about a foot and a half of it and my roommate had to pull me out with her jeep.
    Over all this was a very good learning experience I figured out a lot of stuff that works and alot that doesn't the location I found should work well especially on new moon nights. There are 2 more showers of interest this year one in November and one in December...sooo i will be back those 2 days and i will let anyone who is interested know how it goes :)

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