Nikon is inviting readers to contribute to the environment by planting trees, cleaning up waste, exploring outside, shutting off all lights in homes and recording it with photos.

One of the spectacular night shots by Australian Nikon Creator, Will Eades. © Will Eades.

The company has organised some downloadable tips from local photographer, Will Eades on how to go about it. Will Eades, an Australian Nikon Creator, is an award-winning storm and nature photographer and creative, has shared his top tips to capturing the perfect shot of the starry sky in celebration of Earth Day, to ensure you don’t miss out on this opportunity. Will’s tips are listed below.

  1.   Scout good foreground elements. This could be anything from mountains, a lake, a local monument, or your own house. This is simple with apps like ’Sky Guide’ to help you plan your composition. I also use ‘Windy’ to predict how clear the night will be. Take advantage of the dark skies during Earth Hour and shoot some of your favourite landmarks with the stars above. 
  2.   Focus on your equipment set-up. When setting up, you want to mount your camera on a sturdy tripod, obtain focus and then turn autofocus off before you begin shooting. A tip for obtaining focus is to use the autofocus ability in your camera to lock onto a bright star, like Sirius or Canopus, then turn off autofocus before taking your shot.
  3.   Use a fast lens. For best results in making those stars stand out even more, use a fast lens with a low f-stop – f/2.8 and f/1.8 give amazing results for astrophotography with their superior light gathering abilities. Stopping down on an f/1.8 lens to f/2.0, or f/2.2 will reduce vignetting.
  4.   Get creative with lenses and try different focal lengths. Shooting with an ultra-wide lens will capture more of the sky and show good details of the Milky Way. I use the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S and the Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S for the majority of my Milky Way images. I’m also excited to try the new Nikkor Z 26mm 2.8 pancake for astrophotography too – I think it will surprise a lot of people with its versatility. To get in closer with some more detail, try shooting with a fast 50mm like the Z 50mm f/1.8 S lens, or the Z 50mm f/1.2S.  
  5.   Shutter speed matters. With exposure settings, a shutter speed of 20 seconds or more is preferred to really pull out the light and colours of the night sky. Anything longer and you may start to see star trails as the earth rotates on its axis. ISO should be high to capture the faint light of the stars. I would recommend ISO 4000 or higher on a standard tripod set up, and ISO 800 – ISO 1600 on a star tracker mount.
  6.   Hunt for features of the night sky that might usually be obscured by light pollution. This could be the core of the Milky Way, or something harder to find, like the Zodiacal Light, a faint glowing beam of diffuse sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust. Apps like Sky Guide will show you where to look for these targets.
  7.   Try your luck at M42 – the Orion Nebula. This beautiful region of the night sky is perfect for a telephoto lens 300mm – 600mm. At this focal length, you’ll have to drop your shutter speed much lower to avoid star trails. Try 3-6 seconds and boost your ISO sky high to see what is hidden. Taking multiple images of the Orion Nebula and stacking them with post processing software will also bring out much more colours and details.