Last Wednesday night, a friend and I headed out to Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstitions to take advantage of the new moon.
This meant the stars and milky way would be most visible thanks to the moon being nonexistent. Both of us had been planning this for about two weeks, which tells you how excited we were to go do this. I’ve only done night photography twice – at the Grand Canyon and in Zion and both times I had a moon glaring down on me.
Lost Dutchman State Park
We ended up having a pretty cloudy night that cut our trip short. As you can see above, there was a little star visibility but soon after the clouds rolled fully in and covered everything up. A total bummer.
It wouldn’t have been as bad but the milky way was positioned directly above the mountains which would have made for an absolutely incredible photograph.
Additionally, due to the clouds, my camera had a hard time focusing, which is why most of the photos I took came out to varying degrees of blurry. The four included here are what I’d consider the best but still not that good of quality.
Even with the clouds messing things up, it was still great to get out of the city for a little bit and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Arizona desert at Lost Dutchman State Park.
If you’re curious how to do night photography, it’s not too hard (and I’m hardly an expert).
Here are a few quick tips, though by no means do I have all the answers:
- Use a tripod.
- You’ll want to go to manual focus mode and go to near infinity ( ∞).
- From there adjust it as need be and if you’re having a hard time getting focused, zoom in on a star and then work your way back.
- Take off any filters or polarizers.
- Go to your lowest aperture.
- Be in your widest lens setting.
- Get your ISO in the 2000-3200 range and then play with it from there.
- Set your shutter speed between 15-30 seconds. Some cameras will end up with mini star trails at 30 seconds. I haven’t found that to happen to mine when I’ve done it.
- Pro tip but not necessary – turn on a two second delay so you don’t have any shake in the camera.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
You can follow along the journey on Facebook and Instagram or shoot me any questions and comments about places to go. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts come out!