Do you love taking photos? Do you love star gazing?
The TESFA trek offers a great opportunity to combine both.
While relaxing outside after dinner in any of the places up in the mountains, it is a perfect time to watch the night sky. Way high there, no city lights or smog come in the way to appreciate the immensity of space.
Taking photos is not only for the day, you can get great pictures at night too with the proper equipment that is far from expensive or heavy. Any digital camera with manual mode can take relatively good pictures of the night sky as long as you can keep it still long enough to capture the light coming from the stars.
You only need two things: a tripod to mount the camera on, and a remote shutter release. There is a tiny and very versatile tripod called Gorillapod that doesn’t take much space in your bag, and comes in different sizes and prices. You can even avoid the tripod if you find a flat surface where you can leave the camera still for a while. The remote shutter release is a device that comes with a cable and lets you shoot your camera without touching any button thus preventing any movement. You have to choose one compatible with your camera, though.
As far as camera settings, you want to use manual mode, setting a high ISO, the widest aperture your lens can give you and a shutter speed in the 5 to 30 seconds. Depending on the camera and the amount of light in the sky you may need to experiment with different ISO and shutter speed until you get the best pictures.
I didn’t take any night pictures when I did my trek, but my husband did and he was welcomed by perfectly clear skies at night with almost no moon.
If you leave the camera long enough, you can even capture the milky way, and if you do even longer exposures you will obtain those amazing photos where you see the trails left by the stars moving in the sky due to the Earth rotation.
In case you don’t get a dark sky (new moon), you can capture the moon in any of its phases. But check the moon charts before travelling, when there is no moon you have the opportunity to catch the perfect night sky!
Here some of the pictures Miguel took in Ethiopia: