Night Sky Photography in Tanzania

Posted February 14th, 2011 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

One of my favorite things to do on Safari in Tanzania is to photograph the amazing night sky. There is almost zero atmospheric pollution and on clear nights it feels as if you are a part of the cosmos. Here are a few shots of the starry nights in Tanzania.

Kikoti tent camp in Tarangire NP, Tanzania. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

Kikoti tent camp in Tarangire NP, Tanzania. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

The above shot is a composite of two images. I exposed the first image for the tent and the shadows. It is lit up so well because there were very small lanterns all around the camp area. To the naked eye, the lighting was incredibly dim. However, when I photographed the scene with a really long exposure, the building burned in and lit up like it was in daylight.

I exposed the second photo in the sequence for the stars using a high ISO and a relatively short exposure. I didn’t want the stars to blur from a long exposure, so I needed to use an ISO of about 3200, aperture of f2.8 and shutter speed about 5 seconds.

Back at my office in the USA, I brought the images into Photoshop to do a little bit of cleanup and white balance fine tuning. My final step was to use Nik HDR Efex Pro to merge them and perform a mild HDR process.

Morning twilight above Serengeti camp. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

Morning twilight above Serengeti camp. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

This photo above is from a single shot taken with a Nikon D700. I exposed for the sky which meant that the foreground was almost completely black. Since the shot was taken in 14 bit RAW, I knew I could brighten the foreground with the right digital tool set. I used Nikon Capture NX2 and and four Control Points to gently brighten the foreground.

Star-filled sky above Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

Star-filled sky above Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

This green colored sky is the result of an image I took with my Nikon D700 at Ngorongoro Crater. I’m still not quite sure why the sky has this interesting color cast, but I love the result. The shot was taken at ISO 6400 and the exposure time was about 5 seconds long.

Luxury tent camp in the morning blue hour. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

Luxury tent camp in the morning blue hour. Nikon D700, 14-24mm f2.8.

Sometimes the clouds get in the way of your night photography (above). In these cases, take the photo anyways! You might just be surprised with the final pic.



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