How many photos should you stack when shooting the night sky?

Jun 11, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

How many photos should you stack when shooting the night sky?

Jun 11, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Star stacking is a commonly used technique among astrophotographers. It helps you to reduce noise and end up with better images of the night sky. But how many photos should you stack to get the best results? The answer isn’t as simple as “take X photos and stack them.”  But, Michael Ver Sprill aka Milky Way Mike shares some tips to help you determine the ideal number of photos to stack.

YouTube video

As Mike notes, it doesn’t really come down to the number of photos, but to the length of time that you spend to create the final shot. The length of time is basically the shutter speed x the number of shots. Sounds a bit confusing, but here’s an example.

For the sake of the video, Mike shot 30 images and stacked them, showing the noise reduction between five stacked photos, and all 30 of them. The more images you stack, the more noise reduction you’ll get. But, between 20 and 30 stacked photos, the difference is less obvious, so Mike sticks with 20 photos in this case.

When he shot the photos in this example, Mike used 10s exposure. This means that the length of time for his final image was: 20 images x 10 seconds = 200 seconds. The trick is, in short, to find the optimal total length of time to create one stacked image. Then you can adjust the shutter speed and the number of photos around this value. Make sure to watch Mike’s video to see the examples, and it will definitely be easier to grasp the concept.

[How many photos should you stack? via ISO1200]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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2 responses to “How many photos should you stack when shooting the night sky?”

  1. Astro Avatar
    Astro

    Noise generally follows the square-root of the time. Double the time, noise goes down by 1.4x. 4x as much time, noise goes down by 2x. But between 20x and 30x as much time, that’s 4.5x versus 5.5x less noise, not something you will easily notice.

  2. Veronica Angel Avatar
    Veronica Angel

    I like the tutorial but the sound quality of the the video could have been better. Hope the flows will be taken care while creating the next video. Good luck :)