Alyn Wallace shares why he loves Wales' Dark Skies.

The basics

Where can you see the night skies at their best? Well, you’re spoilt for choice in Wales. Head out on a clear autumn night and enjoy this special experience.

A man with a beard wearing a head torch which illuminates his face.

Alyn Wallace in the Elan Valley

Firstly, make sure you prepare for each adventure. Remember to take a head torch with you so you can see where you’re going and what you're doing. It's very important for your safety, but you'll also have both of your hands free.

If the scene you're trying to capture is too dark, you can use your head torch to illuminate an area and hopefully get better detail in the foreground. 

Smartphone photography

If you'd like to try and photograph the stars for yourself and you don't have a camera, you can start with your smartphone. 

You'll be amazed at what modern smartphones can do these days. And a lot of them come with a night mode, which allows you to take a long exposure shot. Your phone will collect light for 10, maybe 20 seconds to help produce a brighter image when you're in dark areas.

Man holding up a camera tripod silhouetted against a pink and purple sunset sky,

Alyn Wallace in the Elan Valley.

It helps to have a little tripod for your smartphone or you can rest it somewhere so that it's perfectly still for the duration of the long exposure. 

For more tips on smartphone astrophotography, you can check out my YouTube channel where there's a video about smartphone astrophotography and all of the useful apps that you can use.

Cameras and lenses

For more seasoned photographers, a camera with an interchangeable lens, like a Destler, or a mirrorless camera, will give you some fantastic shots.

Side view of a man outdoors in low level light looking down at the back of a camera

Alyn Wallace in the Elan Valley

You're going to be doing long exposures of 10, 15, 20, maybe 30 seconds. So it does help to have a good, sturdy tripod to hold your camera nice and still.

The best lenses are the ones that open up to f2.8 in the aperture, which means that the opening inside the lens is very wide so that lot of light is allowed to pass through the lens and onto your camera sensor. 

The other things you need to consider are the ISO. You can expect to be shooting at about 1600, maybe 3200 ISO. 

I’d recommend starting off with a 10 to 15 seconds shot, at f2.8 and ISO 1600. You'll be amazed what the camera can see. 

For more tips and inspiration check out Alyn’s YouTube channel.

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