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Capturing the Night Sky on Film


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#1 Peter Ellner

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 03:59 AM

Shooting at night really shows the limitations of a camera and the amazing abilities of our eyes! Last week, I went up into the mountains on a camping trip and I brought my DSLR with me. Using an f/2.8 lens, a shutter speed of 1/50, and an ISO of 1600, I was unable to capture any of the stars in the sky... it all came out black. Meanwhile, I could immediately adjust from the brilliance of an iPad screen to the sky above and see the stars clearly. This got me thinking though: how in the world were shots like this one from Close Encounters of the Third Kind achieved using film (likely no faster than ASA 800)?
evanerichards.com/wp-content/gallery/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind/closeencounters074.jpg
I also recall shots in Lawrence of Arabia which clearly show stars in the sky.

So what are they doing, shooting with the ultra-fast lens used in Barry Lyndon? Or is it all a special effect done through optical printers and compositing in post?

Thank you!

Edited by Peter Ellner, 22 September 2012 - 04:00 AM.

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#2 Tom Jensen

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 04:02 AM

No, that was all visual FX.
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#3 Brandon Arandt

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 12:53 AM

Take the DLSR video, then take a long exposure still and mask in post. Voila...
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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:20 AM

The exposure required is of the order of tens of seconds. Conventional video will not capture stars.
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#5 Angel

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:43 PM

I am interested to see photos that you guys have taken.. :) I am pretty new in this, would love to see more! :lol:
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 01:59 PM

I am interested to see photos that you guys have taken.. :) I am pretty new in this, would love to see more! :lol:


You need to use your full real name, it's one of the forum rules.
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#7 Joshua Reis

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 08:40 PM

Shooting at night really shows the limitations of a camera and the amazing abilities of our eyes! Last week, I went up into the mountains on a camping trip and I brought my DSLR with me. Using an f/2.8 lens, a shutter speed of 1/50, and an ISO of 1600, I was unable to capture any of the stars in the sky... it all came out black. Meanwhile, I could immediately adjust from the brilliance of an iPad screen to the sky above and see the stars clearly. This got me thinking though: how in the world were shots like this one from Close Encounters of the Third Kind achieved using film (likely no faster than ASA 800)?
evanerichards.com/wp-content/gallery/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind/closeencounters074.jpg
I also recall shots in Lawrence of Arabia which clearly show stars in the sky.

So what are they doing, shooting with the ultra-fast lens used in Barry Lyndon? Or is it all a special effect done through optical printers and compositing in post?

Thank you!


In order to photograph stars at night, you will probably need to be somewhere around a 30-40 second exposure at f2.8 with 1600 asa. I would look into purchasing an intervalometer for this type of timelapse or long exposures. Most DSLRs are limited to 1 second exposures. However you may have a manual bulb mode which you could time with a stop watch, but your risk shaking the camera.
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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:21 PM

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.c...ed/3uj_RO_nqsI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>



Time lapse with 20-30 second per frame exposures.
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#9 James Compton

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

You CAN shoot long star exposures on FILM. 50 ASA, 100ASA



FUJI VELVIA 100 and KODAK EKTAR 100:

http://benhorne.word...ar-100-round-2/



and just for fun because it's FUJI VELVIA 50:
http://benhorne.word...fuji-velvia-50/
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#10 Paul Bartok

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 11:50 AM

I think this topic has moved totally of what he was asking, but yes it's almost impossible, watch collateral for great low-light scenes.


otherwise you'll have to go down the road of VFX.

You CAN shoot long star exposures on FILM. 50 ASA, 100ASA



FUJI VELVIA 100 and KODAK EKTAR 100:

http://benhorne.word...ar-100-round-2/



and just for fun because it's FUJI VELVIA 50:
http://benhorne.word...fuji-velvia-50/


I love the look of Velvia but to be safe go with 100.
I would not recommend Velvia 50 RVP for long exposure because of reciprocity failure and color shifts.
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