Batsto Village Photography in New Jersey with a man painting on the lawn

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Batsto Village, N.J.Photography Hot Spot

Batsto Village is a New Jersey historic site. It’s also a photography hot spot located in the South Central Pinelands area. It’s a great location to photograph some 19th-century buildings. There are a sawmill and several other buildings with a lake nearby. You can take tours of the village and photograph the interior of the buildings.  Stop by the museum and be sure to say at the visitor’s center. The staff is very informative and welcoming. We remembered a $5.00 parking fee, but it doesn’t say there is one on their website. It’s well worth the money if you have to pay to park.

It was a hot day when we were here, and we were glad we took that bottle of water with us. There is no food or drink for purchase when you are walking the grounds. The sawmill makes a great shot, and there is running water for the silky effect.  This is also a night sky Milky Way photography location.

Batsto Village, N.J.Photography Hot Spot

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You can photograph here any time of year. It’s dark skies here also but the park is closed at night. Park Police will arrest you. That is a fact. Be careful if you choose to sneak in. We have not done that.

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How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

What you will need:

Light pollution map light pollution map

Camera – You will need a camera that you can manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens) you will have to increase the ISO. The higher the ISO the more grain or digital noise or grain that will appear in your photos. Nikon’s 28mm f/1.8G or Canon’s 28mm f/1.8 are good choices if you are going lens shopping for your night photography trip.

Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy you will need a sturdy one and we never know what Mother Nature will bring us while we are out there. Keep that in mind when you buy one to go in your suitcase if you are going on a plane. It should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.

Sky Map – Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).   Android Version? Sky Guide is not currently available as an Android app. The closest thing I can suggest is SkySafari ($2.99).

Flashlight –  Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens and you will be able to zoom the in and out on the amount of light emitting from the flashlight. I like a small stream of light not a wide amount of light. That was I can be specific as to what exactly I want to paint with light. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the  HP7 if you can.

Light Pollution and Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon and you want to be in the darkest area possible.

Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. When exposing your pictures in general you can use the remote release so you are not using your hand to press the shutter button and make the camera move even a little bit.

Milky Way Photography

Use a Tripod – First of all you must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves your picture will blur.

Focus – Use live view. When you use live view your mirror locks up and it does not drop so avoid any movement at all inside the camera.

To focus in the dark use your camera’s live view and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to see if it is accurate. It can be off a little on some lenses.

ISO – Start with ISO 3200.  This is just a standard starting point and you will adjust from here.

Shutter Speed – Remember the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. You can do star trails specifically but that’s not what we are going for here since we are starting out with milky way photography. We want crisp non-star trail images when doing this. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.

Aperture – Depth of field isn’t very important on these shots but letting the light into the camera is, therefore you should shoot wide open if. If the depth of field is important to you try not to go to high. (wide open = the lowest aperture your camera will allow, ex. 2.8).

Those are all of the basic starting points for doing your milky way shots.  You will want to find some interesting foreground to make your shot dynamic. Doing plain old milky way shots will not win you any awards.

White Balance – Always shoot your night photography raw so you can edit it in Lightroom.  When in live view mode, you can change your white balance settings and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud as a standard-setting and adjust things later. You can shoot the sky in tungsten mode to make it bluer but if you have trees and such in the picture they will come out blue also.  I sometimes add in color in my milky way to match my subject.

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park Information:

Telephone: 609-561-0024  Fax:609-567-8116  –  Postal address: Batsto Village & Wharton State Forest, 31 Batsto RoadHammonton, NJ 08037  –  Electronic mail: info@batstovillage.org

Visitor Center: Daily:   900:am to 4:00pm

Tours:

Self Guided Village Tour:

Visitors may take a self-guided walking tour by following the numbered map on a Batsto Village brochure, which is available at the Visitors Center. The buildings and sites are numbered and have brief descriptions for the benefit of the visitor.

Guided Village Tours:

There are no regularly scheduled guided tours of the village. However, groups and schools can arrange in advance for special tours led by the State employees Resource Interpretive Specialists. Groups must make arrangements at least five days in advance. No reservations will be accepted on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

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