flickr-stars-squareI took my first stab at shooting stars while spending a weekend in Vermont to do some snowboarding. We arrived in a town just outside of Killington on a crisp and very cold night. Ideal conditions and a clear sky for some star shots. For my first attempt I would have preferred it be a little warmer then the -12 degrees fahrenheit. Besides that there are a few things I learned from the experience.

When an opportunity to try a new photographic experience presents itself take it! In my case where I live in NYC it is impossible to get clear shots of the stars because of all of the light pollution. So even though it was in the negatives the crystal clear sky could not be passed up.

The second takeaway is that at night the viewfinder isn’t going to do anything.  To compose a shot will require taking shots and recomposing based on what is seen on the screen. I cranked up my ISO when taking these shots to reduce the shutter speed for the test shots so I could quickly recompose and get on with the shoot.

Third, bring a flashlight/headlamp and a shutter release. The buttons on your camera will be very hard to see and they were very difficult to press in the cold. Also for time savings you can cut two seconds if using self-timer to prevent camera shake. That 2 seconds can seem very long in the cold. One more camera related thing in the cold is that battery performance will be robbed significantly so bring spares.

I wasn’t expecting to come away with any images my first time out but I was delightfully wrong in that assumption.  Just get out there and see how it goes!