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| p.1 #2 · Advice for night sky shooting on hiking trip |
It sounds like a fun trip you have planned. For the star shots, typically wider is better. While I have seen some cool shots with a longer lens, if you want to shoot stars over an alpine lake you need to be shooting wide enough to take the lake in.
My suggestion is to just use the 17-40mm for the stars and shoot at 17mm. Personally, I would throw the rule of thumb out the window, basically with shooting wide, you don't want to shoot any longer than 30 seconds, if you can keep it at 25 secs that would be great.
If you are able to get the 5Diii, then that helps with the idea of needing a faster lens. Course with my Nikons I have been shooting stars just fine at f4 for years now, I am sure you will be fine with that too.
A couple keys to shooting stars and especially when you want something in the foreground like a lake. First thing is know how difficult it is to focus in the dark, it's hard... so what I would suggest is while it's still light out, go set up your camera on your tripod and compose a nice view of the lake with lots of sky in the shot, focus it in broad daylight, take a shot, make sure it's in focus. Mark down what the focus is, if you are doing this close to sunset, you can get some duct tape and tape the focus ring down even so it can't move. Then wait for night, or shoot through the twilight.
Exposures, I already mentioned f4, my basic settings when shooting stars is ISO 3200, 25 sec at f4. Take a shot, check the histogram, don't necesarily believe the histogram. Of course the histogram will be heavy to the left, there is a lot of dark sky there, but you don't want it all the way to the left either. So based on your first shot, if you can back down on the ISO because it's too bright, go ahead. But if it's looking a bit dark, perhaps the lake isn't showing up much and the sky seems too dark. I would bump speed to 30 secs. Check your exposure. Then the next thing is simply to keep pushing the ISO to get a properly exposed shot. Depending on how dark the night is, you can push it up to ISO 4000 or 5000. Usually that should be enough to get good shots. Now if the moon is full and out, you won't get too many stars in the shot, but the moon makes a great fill light, and if it's bright enough, you might even see yourself backing down on the ISO to say 2000.
I hope that helps to give you a general idea on where to start.