What to do with your camera.
It takes patience and practice to find the right camera settings to shoot night photography. The LCD screen on your DSLR camera might make everything seem extremely bright in the dark, so use your camera’s histogram to make sure your shot is bright enough.
Focus on a bright star.
To focus on objects that are 25,000 light-years away, you can’t rely on your camera’s auto-focus. “You need to have the ability to manual focus, to set your ISO, aperture and shutter at exactly what you want, so you need to go full manual,” Whitehouse says. One option, if your camera has it, is to use the focus magnifier feature (“Live View” on a Nikon) to pull your focus. “I find the brightest star in the sky, focus magnify on that, get it to where it’s super-crisp and that makes the entire scene perfectly crisp,” Whitehouse says.
“It doesn’t always work perfectly the first time,” says Ohst. “So once I do that, I zoom back out, take a test shot and then I zoom way in on the test shot to see if my stars are pinpoint. Often they’re not and I have to try it again.” Ohst recommends checking and double-checking your focus, especially if you change your camera orientation, because you might accidentally touch the focus ring and lose your shot. “And there’s no fixing that at home,” she cautions.
If you’re new to photography and you aren’t comfortable with manual mode yet, try setting your focus before the sun sets. “One trick that you can use is to focus on the thing that’s the furthest away in the landscape. Then when it gets dark, you don’t have to worry about it,” says Whitehouse.