Monday, February 24, 2014

Night Sky Over Heart Lake


Last night was perfect for viewing the stars over large portions of the Adirondacks.

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Brendan Wiltse is the Science & Stewardship Director for the Ausable River Association and a professional conservation photographer. He holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Queen's University in Canada. While not out on the water studying Adirondack lakes and streams, he is often roaming the Wilderness with his camera and dog. You can view is photography at

4 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    Amazing photos, I love shooting stars in the Adirondacks. Pharaoh Lake is another great spot for stargazing.

  2. Brad says:

    One thing that always strikes us when we travel and camp in the North Country is the DARK skies…sometimes wondrous displays of night sky…stars, constellations, galaxies, etc. And if we bring a teenage visitor, WOW, they are sometimes awestruck.

  3. Paul K says:

    is there a rule of thumb for camera exposure time in catching a picture like that? nice job!!!

    • There are a few general principles.

      If you want to capture the stars without noticeable star trails or movement there is the 500 rule. That is divide 500 by the focal length in 35mm equivalent. In this case I was shooting at 10mm on a Nikon dx format camera, which is 15mm equivalent for 35mm film. That means the exposure would need to be 33 seconds or less to “freeze” the stars. Longer focal lengths require shorter exposures.

      Use the largest aperture possible, f3.5 or less is a good starting point.

      Use as low of an ISO as possible to get the proper exposure. You will probably need to be in the 1,600 to 6,400 range.

      Finally, pay particular attention to focus. The autofocus on your camera will not be reliable. Depending on the camera you may be able to focus using live view. Also, don’t depend on rotating the focus ring all the way to the right. Many lenses focus past infinity, which is necessary for the autofocus system to work. The best bet is to get focus as close as possible, shoot, then zoom in and check focus on the preview screen.

      Hope this helps! Night photography is a lot of fun.