Omahan Zach Hanson fell in love with night photography during a camping trip several years ago.

Now, it’s his way to destress.

“This is my therapy,” Hanson said. “When I go out at night, I find peace in it.”

A single shot can take half a minute to produce, so there’s plenty of time to think, to plan the next image, to look up at the stars and appreciate the serenity of the moment, Hanson says.

Hanson shared some of his tips for night shooting with Renae Blum of Nebraska Game and Parks:

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» For equipment, a tripod and a remote shutter release are the essentials. An optimal lens is wide-angle and fast, with a large aperture.

» You may not need expensive equipment to make pictures you’re proud of. “One of my first shots at night that I really loved was taken with a basic DSLR, a kit lens, and a tripod from Costco — so a $400 camera and a $49 tripod. And it’s still one of my favorite nighttime shots,” Hanson says. For astrophotography, he recommends a Samyang 14mm 2.8 lens. “It’s one of the cheapest you can buy, but it’s amazing at night.”

» For lights, he has been known to use Tiki torches, lanterns, flashlights, headlamps — whatever is on hand.

» Set your camera on manual for full control of your aperture and shutter speed.

» Choose your ISO based on the amount of light available. “In western Nebraska, you won’t have to bump up your ISO because of how much light is available from the stars. But closer to Omaha or Lincoln, you have to shoot a little higher to make those stars pop, and I’ll often turn down highlights in post to get rid of some of that city light,” Hanson says. “It can be hard to see stars in a city photo if you don’t do that.” He’s comfortable shooting up to an ISO of 6400 on his full frame camera (a Nikon D750); on his old crop sensor camera, a Nikon D3200, an ISO of 1600 was his limit.

» Most of Hanson’s shots are between 25 and 30 seconds. After about 30 seconds, the camera will pick up the movement of the stars and produce star trails. Stars may start to streak after 20 or 25 seconds on a crop sensor camera.

» If you’re shooting stars, focus your camera on them to get them as sharp as possible.

» Hanson uses the Planit and PhotoPills apps to plan his shoots. The apps include a dark sky map, a sun/moon finder, visualizations of the Milky Way, and times of sunrise/set and moonrise/set, among other features.

» Foreground is important. Choose a location with something in it — a tree, a barn, a waterfall, etc. — that will draw the eye. You don’t necessarily need to light this area of the picture; sometimes silhouettes are just as interesting.

» Keep safety in mind when choosing a location. Hanson sticks to state parks and recreation areas and goes with others when possible.

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