Why do you need a special iPhone app for shooting the stars?
The light of stars is very weak and therefore it is difficult to photograph them. With an SLR camera, you can increase the amount of light that falls on the sensor with the aperture, set a slow shutter speed in seconds or minutes, and increase the sensitivity of the sensor with the ISO value. The possibilities to adjust the exposure of the iPhone are very limited; the aperture is not adjustable, the longest shutter speed is 1/3 of a second and the ISO value is a maximum of 2000. Due to these limitations, I have not been able to photograph the starry sky with the standard iPhone Camera app.
Apps for shooting the stars with your iPhone
In this blog I show you the results that I have achieved with the apps Slow Shutter Cam and NightCap. These apps simulate a long shutter speed, by quickly taking photos in a row and merging them into one photo.
iPhone Stars Photography with Slow Shutter Cam
With the app Slow Shutter Cam, after some experimenting with the different modes and settings, I managed to photograph the starry sky.
The app has three modes. I use the Motion Blur mode to capture motion blur with a slow shutter speed. Slow Shutter Cam also has modes for shooting under low light conditions (Low Light) and photographing light trails (Light Trail).
I found the Motion Blur and Low Light modes useless for photographing the starry sky. These modes produced photos without stars (Motion Blur) and photos with extreme noise (Low Light). With the Light Trail mode I finally made this picture of the constellation Orion.
The Light Sensitivity was set to Full with an exposure time (Shutter speed) of 30 seconds. The focus can not be set to infinity. Instead, I focused on a bright star by tapping and then locked the focus point with tapping on AF.
To prevent camera shake, place the iPhone with a smartphone holder on a tripod and take the photo with the self-timer. Set the resolution at 12 MP and as a file format you select TIFF or PNG for the best quality. As a workflow you select auto-save-clear, so that photos are immediately saved and the app is ready for the next recording.
Stars photography with NightCap
This app has modes for shooting stars and meteors. The Stars mode works completely automatically. The self-timer is set and the exposure is automatically determined. Even focusing is not necessary. All you have to do is place your iPhone on a tripod with a smartphone holder and tap the shutter button. The picture below is made with the Stars mode and an exposure time of 10 seconds.
With both apps I have made pictures of the starry sky that reflect reality well. The stars are not very bright due to the city light. Slow Shutter Cam remains my favorite app for shooting with slow shutter speeds. Because of the good results with the fully automatic Stars mode, I will use NightCap more often for photographing the starry sky.
Operations in Snapseed
The photo I made with Slow Shutter Cam has been edited in Snapseed as follows:
- I removed the line caused by a moving car with tools / healing.
- I increased the contrast with tools / tune image / ambiance -100.
- With tools / selective I made the horizon slightly lighter so that the silhouette of the windmill became more visible.
- Finally, I applied the filter tools / grainy film A03 with the +20 setting.
Maybe you want to view my Snapseed manual for easy-to-follow instructions and video tutorials.