New photographers often make the mistake of searching for a subject to shoot. Although the subject is an important element within the image, try looking for the right light first and filling the image with a subject only after interesting light is found. Good lighting is often found early morning at sunrise or later in the day at sunset. Warmer tones and hues in the sky illuminate the scene for a more pleasing image. Stormy sky’s work well here too. I’ll often seek out these conditions first and look for a subject to fill the frame later while shooting on a location I have scouted out previously. This image was shot close to sunset in the fall. Fall months are great for outdoor images due to atmospheric conditions that lead to interesting colors in the sky.
This requires some trial and error. It also seems to work best if you cam find the north star and include it in your composition since the rest of the stars will appear to swirl around the it. An object in the foreground will add to the overall composition. A tripod or other way to steady the camera is mandatory as well as clear atmospheric conditions. For this image I took a few test shots at night for the correct camera ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings in manual mode. When I felt I had the correct settings, ISO 800, focus set to infinity,f8,30 second shutter speed I set the camera (Nikon D300) to take 100 images at 30 second exposures for about an hour.Each image was one second apart. I blended the resulting 94 images into one image for the effect. The light on the rock and trees was ambient light from a patio light which was enough to illuminate the foreground a little. If ambient light is not available you can paint the foreground with a flashlight for a few of the frames.
This technique has been around since the 1950’s with film and uses a minimum of three (up to 5) exposures separated by 2 stops each. A tripod is necessary, as well as a still subject or scene. The three images are then stacked using software. The benefit is a greater tonal range and detail in the subject that cant be obtained with a single exposure. I used this technique for this image of an old farm truck in a field to bring out the detail and texture in the rusted body of the truck.
HDR Photography Photo Workshop (Wiley's Photo Workshop Series)