How To

How To: Capture Wonders of Night Sky

Scott van Schayk expresses his passion for astrophotography, shooting the Northern Lights and the stars of the South
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Growing up in Orkney, getting into landscape photography seemed likely after I first picked up a camera. A couple that always fascinated me with the cold, dark winter hours, and the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. My love for astrophotography was sparked after a few chances to catch the Northern Lights in Orkney.

It really took off when my husband and I agreed to move for a year to New Zealand. We spent a year in a campervan, which means that the isolated dark sky areas across New Zealand will really make the most of us. With only one camera, two lenses (one easy wide prime, one zoom), and a nice budget travel tripod, I traveled with a really light rig.

Read More: Best Full-Frame Camera

Despite getting fewer chances to get out for shots after returning from New Zealand, the scenes we encountered have encouraged me to dive deeper into astrophotography. Before, I’d just dabbled in astrophotography, but I see it being a big part of my photography going forward.

Steps to Follow:

01. Orkney Northern Lights

Capturing Northern Lights

Orkney, Scotland. Fujifilm XT-2 with 16mm f/1.4 lens; 5 sec at f/1.4, ISO 400 (Image credit: Scott van Schayk)

This was the most dramatic Northern Lights show I’d ever seen. I was blessed to have been able to catch it just outside my parent’s home. There was a lot of trial and error: with dips and peaks in color and light, the aurora was changing a lot.

02. A Night Under The Stars

How to shoot milky way

Pongakawa, New Zealand. Fujifilm XT-2 with 16mm f/1.4 lens; 15 sec at f/1.4, ISO 1,600; 22 images (Image credit: Scott van Schayk)

I parked my campervan and I was greeted by the most beautiful sight as I got out. This was my first shot at a Milky Way panoramic view. With eight images in each, there are three rows.

03. Milky Way Over The House

Milky way over the house

Strathyre, Scotland. Fujifilm XT-2 with 16mm f/1.4 lens; 10 sec at f/1.4, ISO 1,000; 12 images (Image credit: Scott van Schayk)

When picking kiwis, I stayed in this house and was exposed to the most beautiful night sky. To make this picture work, I monitored the Milky Way location using the PlanIt app. Two rows of 11 images are available.

04. Camping Pod

During the New Year, I lived in this camping pod. Upon arrival, the weather cleared, so I had to go outside for some time to take some pictures. The moon was close to full, meaning that the stars were not as bright, but the scene was softly illuminated. Two rows are here.

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