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How to focus at infinity doing night photography?

In the previous post, we talked about taking pictures of the moon with a DSLR. The reason for this post can be contributed to the fact that focusing on the moon is still easier as compared to stars. Also, what to do when you are in the middle of nowhere trying to take pictures of star trails, night sky, milky way, etc. It is hard to see your camera controls on a night without moon and away from city lights.
I recently went on a night photography excursion with a group of photographers to do astrophotography. It was pitch dark as there was no moon at all. Here are a few things that worked for most of us when it comes to focusing, pretty sure at least one of them would work for you.

1) Switch to manual mode. Go to live view and zoom in all the way using your camera functionality (not lens). Point it to the brightest star, focus by rotating the focus ring manually. Take a few test shots and see stars by zooming all the way into the photograph.

2) Use magic lantern. This software adds multiple inbuilt functionalities to your camera. Here is a link to magic lantern website where you can download the zip file for your DSLR camera make and model.

3) Focus (auto) at a very distant object during daytime (mountain peak or a building) and then turn into manual focus. You have to be really careful about not disturbing the focus ring which might lead to blurred images.

4) Sometimes there might be a distant light source available like a lighthouse or ocean navigation warning lights. You can use them as a source to focus your camera in auto mode and then switch to manual mode. 

Talking about the excursion, it went really well. We got to see the milky way as well for the first time, it was a priceless moment.  Here is one of my shots showing milky way over the Pacific ocean. It was taken using a Tokina 11-16 mm F2.8 ultra wide angle lens on my DSLR.

Night dslr photography
Night photography

Tip: To see your camera controls in dark, buy a red coloured light source. It keeps the light disturbance to a minimum level and your eyes will adjust easily. Keep in mind that some lenses focus beyond infinity, so use a marker for easy identification of the infinity focus spot.

If you found this post helpful, share the photography love:)

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