Postcards from Banff - Landscapes and the 500 Rule

A few weeks ago, we wanted to get away.  To go somewhere.  Mountains is always a good choice.  Packed up the gear, and the kids :), and headed out for a photo filled weekend.  It was a beautiful weekend weather wise, and my wife wanted to get some star and landscape photos.  Banff, Alberta is a perfect place for star pictures, as the whole area has very little light pollution.  It was a wonderful evening, beautiful sunset, and a wonderful time with the family.  The stars finally showed, and so did the milky way.  Unfortunately, I completely screwed up the settings on mine and my wife's cameras.  My exposure times were completely wrong, and I did not realize this until we got home.  The exposure was way too long, and although the mountains looked great, the star started streaking, and the images looked bad.  Sad really.  I completely forgot about the 500 rule, and was using settings I normally use on Northern Lights.  So not only did I ruined my photo's, I ruined my wife's too.  Perfect. So what is this rule?  It's very very simple.

500 divided by the focal length of your lens equals the time of exposure

So let say you are shooting with a full frame camera with a 15mm lens.  The exposure time before the stars start streaking is calculated by 500/15=33.3.  33.3 is the time in seconds you have to capture the stars before they start moving across the image.  Now on the crop sensor cameras it is the same thing, but a 15mm is really a 24mm, so this calculation 500/24=21.8.  So as you can see, with the same lens you have a 9 second difference, between the full frame camera and a crop sensor camera.  Yep, and I messed it all up.  Shame on me.  As a consolation here are some of the landscapes I managed to capture before the sun went down.  Enjoy!

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