I have a Canon EOS 2000D with a Tamron AF 70-300mm, EFS 18-55mm and a 500mm & 1000mm manual lenses;
I have it set on bulb for long exposure, F5.6 which is the smallest aperture, ISO I've tried everything between 100 and 3200, white balance on 5200k daylight and I only get a white or black image.

How can I correctly expose my photograph?

  • \$\begingroup\$ have you searched for related questions? Here is one I wrote a little while back and it may help you. photo.stackexchange.com/questions/103144/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2020 at 0:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Give us the settings you used for the "white" image, and then give us the settings for the "black" image. The correct exposure will be somewhere in between. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2020 at 1:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ You haven't said what shutter speed you used. I bulb mode you can make the shutter speed longer by pressing the button longer. It is also possible that the black picture is actually a proper exposure, but you can't see the stars because the camera moved a bit during the exposure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Apr 6, 2020 at 6:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Isaac and welcome to Photo.SE! This site has quite some good questions and answer on astrophotography. Perhaps one of them already answers your question? If not, feel free to indicate what the existing answers are lacking in your current question. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2020 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a remote or cable release to allow triggering the shutter without touching the camera (and introducing movement)? Have you tried the self-timer for this purpose? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 6, 2020 at 11:21

2 Answers 2


Generally, when I go for night scape or astronomy images, I set my camera and lens to manual mode and of course I use a tripod or telescope to which I attach it. Traveling lightly, putting down the camera and using the timer can do the trick to get long exposures without motion blur.

Stars move fast and the easiest subject are star trails: fix your camera in one direction on a tripod set you lens to manual and focus manually on a bright star or the moon (that's likely not the complete edge of the focus range). For starters try high ISO and 30s exposure (that's the longst exposure you can set without bulb mode). Reduce ISO step by step until you get an image which is not completely white anymore. Depending on how much post processing you want to do, reduce ISO so that background is relatively dark but not completely (little post processing) or around 50% (more post processing, but with stacking you could get more details if you use a star tracker or telescope). Preferably use a short focal length for you first reps into night scape or Astronomical photography: less motion blur


Start with taking pictures of dark objects around you.

All experience I have with star photography is accidentally: I was making night photos and there were stars in the photo. I found it funny to see what most people on this community probably know: stars move so fast that you will get strips if you expose for more than a few seconds. So my answer won't be the best you can find, but given that you didn't get another answer yet it will be the best one for now. Hope it helps you.

With my experience, I would start with normal night photography to get a feeling of your settings. Back in the days my camera was so noisy I was used to only shooting at ISO 100. You claim you used the maximum aperture, but I think you mean the minimum. A F value of 5.6 sounds like the biggest you can make the hole in the diaphragm, that is the F value cannot be smaller. It sounds like a good value to start. Now go to bulb mode: you probably have to click twice: one to open and once to close. The disadvantage is that both times you have to touch the camera thus shaking it, but that's of later concern (you can work around that with a remote or a timer delay). Now try to keep the shutter open for 1s, 2s, 4s etc, go up to 64s. Just aim at a tree or so. If it is to dark for autofocus, just focus by hand. You are trying to find the right shutter speed, not aiming for crystal clear tree pictures.

I expect you photos at 1s will be too dark, but somewhere before 64s you will be able to see a lot more than with your naked eye. In my experience, if you can see the trees with your naked eye, and you can see the stars as well, the exposure for the stars will be the same order of magnitude, so now it may be time to aim the camera upwards. If the photo still turns out black, it may have to do with focusing. Otherwise it may be that you don't use a tripod and the stars are never in the same place for long. Still you can apply the same technique: double the exposure time until you start seeing some details.

One you get the exposure right you can start varying: increasing and decreasing ISO, aperture and exposure time (shutter speed).


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