top of page

How was it shot: Last light at Kata Tjuta

Travel Photography is so much fun and so rewarding. Who doesn't want a great shot to remember a special place or time? Night, sunset and blue hour photos of a unique landscape or location make wonderful keepsakes. This photo was taken about a year ago on a family trip to Uluru/Kata Tjuta in Australia. I knew I wanted a great night image and everyone photographs Uluru - myself included, but I wanted something unique! So I thought, I am going to get one of Kata Tjuta as well. I originally wanted a sunset/early blue hour photo and a much closer shot. However, in order to get to Kata Tjuta and Uluru you have to enter a National Park and it has opening and closing hours. Staying at Kata Tjuta for sunset and blue hour would mean risking a ticket...and I am not that brave.

Instead I decided to shoot Kata Tjuta from our resort. I found a nice elevated spot behind one of the hotels, I went at sunset and stayed until night truly came. My favorite image is this one, showcasing the beautiful dusk light exiting the day, making way for the night stars.

How was it shot?


Resort just outside of Ulura/Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia (there is only one resort with numerous hotels)


July 18, 2015 about an hour after the sunset

Subject Placement:

I was too far from the landscape subject to really do anything more with it. I really had no choice but to make this image all about the sky. So I chose to just have a sliver of land at the bottom and the rest be sky.

Camera Settings:

Aperture: f/2.8

Always shoot wide open for night sky shots. You need to allow as much light as possible to enter your lens in order to capture the stars.

Speed: 15 seconds

You want to let in as much light as possible (so long exposure), however your ability to shoot long and catch stars as points of light opposed to light trails depends on your equipment - camera and lens focal length. Full sensor camera can stay open longer than crop sensors shooting with the same focal length. The wider your lens focal length, the longer you can keep your shutter open before you start to get star trails. Here is a link to a chart that tells you the longest time you can keep your shutter open without seeing star trails based on the equipment you are using - this is referred to as the 600 Rule.

ISO: 800

For night photography, you want to go as high in ISO as possible to let in as much light as possible with your limited long exposure speed determined by the 600 Rule. You will get noise, however you can deal with that in post processing. From my little experience with night photography, I have found my camera produces the best photos at ISO 800. This is one of those times I really wish I had better equipment than my crop sensor!

Focus Settings:

I set my lens to manual focus and to the infinity mark.

Additional tips:

I remove my camera strap to ensure it will not blow in the wind and cause camera shake.

I always carry a flash light when doing night photography.

Shoot in RAW - if you are not comfortable with RAW yet, choose the RAW +Jpeg option so you always have a RAW file to play with.

Do as much research as possible on shooting locations/opportunities before you head out on vacation. For this shot, research did not help me at all as I found the location when walking around with my toddler. However, I completely botched my first ever night sky attempt when on Easter Island :( While we were there, I decided to try it out, but I had never researched night shooting techniques, so I had no idea what I was doing!

My Equipment:

This photo was taken with my Canon T3i, which is a crop sensor and has been replaced with the Canon T5i.

A sturdy tripod and remote shutter release are a must for night sky photography.


Due to being very far away, and shooting at a resort where there were parking lot lights and other things, I did a fair amount of editing in Photoshop to remove items and clean up the horizon line in addition to the few things I usually do in Light room for my landscapes.

In lightroom, I usually just lower the highlights (to at least -50, sometime -100) and I deepened the shadows to enhance the silhouette. I used Damien Symonds noise reduction method (I believe this is free on his blog). I also slightly upped the saturation.

If you enjoyed this post, follow me on facebook to see post for all of my 'How was it shot?' blog series

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page