Samsung Mobile Press

How Two Photographers Shot Stunning Night Sky Images with the Galaxy S20 Ultra

July 24, 2020

When Hyuk-ki Lee and Seok-joon Hong aren’t busy at the office, the two astrophotographer hobbyists are out capturing stunning images of galaxies and celestial phenomena. Recently, they took the Galaxy S20 Ultra out in the field to see how well it could capture pictures of the night sky. Here’s what happened.

There is a magic that happens when you step outside of the city at night. Away from the streetlamps and neon signs, the sky comes to life and a universe of stars and planets unveils itself. That beauty was captured for the website with the Galaxy S20 Ultra – not by professional photographers, but by Hyuk-ki Lee and Seok-joon Hong from Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business.

During the day, both Lee and Hong work for Samsung – Lee overseeing the production of Samsung’s latest devices, and Hong working in digital marketing for the smartphone camera department. But when they are not busy at the office, they are moonlighting as astrophotographers, capturing images of galaxies and celestial phenomena.

Close up of a windmill against a background of the Milky Way galaxy shot with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Building on a Lifelong Love of Photography
Trekking through valleys and foothills, Lee and Hong ventured out to the Gyeongsangbuk-do and Jeollabuk-do provinces of South Korea in the hopes of catching some shots of the Milky Way galaxy. The results were even better than what they had hoped for.

The Milky Way galaxy shot with a Galaxy S20 Ultra
The stunning photographs represent a lifetime love of astrophotography – a love that began in childhood for both photographers.

“I felt a sense of awe for the mysteries of the universe at a young age,” said Lee. That awe turned into a passion for making his own optics, as he completed his very own telescope in high school to capture images of deep space phenomena.

Hong’s love of astrophotography also started in childhood, but for him, it started with a camera. Hong first became interested in photography in middle school when his father gave him a film camera as a gift. Joining the photography club in high school cemented his love for the art.

Although the two photographers share similar backgrounds, their approach to the Galaxy S20 Ultra shoot was completely different – a fact that Hong chalks up to the process of creativity. 

“Even if two photographers shoot the same subject, the outcome will be different based on their perspective and intentions,” said Hong. “For example, even if you took a picture of the Milky Way at the same place on the same day, it creates a completely different piece of work depending on the composition, angle, and surroundings.”

A side-by-side comparison of Hyuk-ki Lee and Seok-joon Hong’s astrophotographs.
Side by side of Hong and Lee’s photos to show the different styles. Seok-joon Hong (left) and Hyuk-ki Lee (right)

The results of the shoot are a testament to how a passion for photography can take one on unexpected adventures.

Taking on the Challenge to Get the Perfect Shot

Both Lee and Hong are no strangers to unexpected adventures. Their hobby has taken them throughout their home country and across the world. In fact, the Galaxy S20 Ultra photoshoot was not the first time they had worked together. In 2013, the pair traveled to Tanzania where Hong got his first taste of astrophotography. Those trips have helped both artists find inspiration.

“One day you may be shooting the moon from your living room; the next, you may be shooting celestial phenomena never captured before,” said Lee.  But getting the perfect shot comes with challenges.

Dealing with low lighting conditions and the pollution of city lights, waiting hours for clouds to clear only to miss the shot, and lugging heavy camera gear to remote areas are all part of the astrophotography experience. But with cameras like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Hong says those challenges are getting easier to manage.

Wide angle of windmills against a background of the Milky Way galaxy shot with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
“With people not spending so much time face-to-face these days, more people are turning to suburban campsites to take in the stars and the moon,” he said. “With the Galaxy S20 Ultra, people can take stunning night photos and it’s helping popularize astrophotography.”

Capturing the Stars with the Galaxy S20 Ultra

While the idea of astrophotography seems like it may have a steep learning curve, Hong encourages people to try their hand at the craft and says the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a good camera for beginners.

“I think it’s important to think about what kind of pictures you’d like to take first, and then find the right equipment,” he said. “If you’ve got the Galaxy S20 Ultra and a sturdy tripod, you’ve got more than you need as a beginner.”

The Milky Way galaxy shot with a Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Equipped with a 108-megapixel sensor and nona-binning technology for better low light performance, the camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is capable of capturing beautiful night photos. Hong says his experience while taking it out into the field has made it a “must have” tool in his camera kit.

“The Galaxy S20 is definitely superior in terms of portability,” he said. “It also has the advantage of Pro Mode, which allows you to take photos manually and gives you more control over your settings, and ultimately the final results. I will definitely continue to take night sky photos with the Galaxy S20 Ultra as my second camera.”

For those looking to get started with astrophotography, both Lee and Hong say it’s best to start simple. Static shots of constellations or the moon are easy to capture.

“To make it easier, take advantage of camping trips with your family,” said Hong. “When the sky is clear, you can use some astronomy apps to find constellations. Then take out your Galaxy S20 Ultra and create some special memories with your loved ones.”

Lee’s best advice is not about the photos at all, but about remembering to enjoy the beauty of what you are trying to capture.

“When I was young, I looked on in awe at the uncontrollable power of the universe,” said Lee. “Now that I'm older, I find comfort in the fact that the stars and the moon are always waiting for me. Capturing the stars is my way of finding inner peace.”  

Night Sky Shooting Tips with the Galaxy S20 Ultra

Before You Go
Plan your shoot by knowing what your subject is, and where and when the optimal time to take your photo will be. If you want to photograph the moon, it is best to wait for a night with a new moon. Don’t forget a good flashlight and a backup phone battery just in case.

When You’re There
1) Set Up Your Equipment: Good night sky images require long exposures, or slow shutter speeds. You’ll need a tripod and a remote shutter, or timed shutter, to ensure your camera stays steady while taking these long exposures.

2) Use Pro Mode: Auto settings on your camera aren’t set up to take photos of the Milky Way. Switch to manual mode to control the ISO, shutter speed, and other settings to adjust for the lighting and environment of each shot.

3) Tweak the Shutter Speed: Shutter speed can be used to produce different stylistic results in your final image. If your shutter is open long enough, for example, you will capture the rotation of the Earth, resulting in star trails in your final image. Adjust your shutter speed to either get static images of the night sky as you see it, or use a longer exposure to capture star trails.

4) Adjust the White Balance: White balance refers to the color temperature of your image and is used to ensure that the white parts of your scene render as white in your final product. For starscape photos, you’ll most likely want a white balance between 3500 and 4500.

5) Adjust the ISO: ISO refers to the light sensitivity of the image sensor. The higher the ISO setting, the more sensitive it is to light, making it easier to take brighter night images. But this can also introduce graininess, or noise. Adjust the ISO for the environment to reduce noise as much as possible while ensuring your sensor can still gather enough light to get the shot.

Photo Saving Tips
While in Pro Mode, make sure to save photos as RAW. You can turn this feature on from the Camera app by going to Settings > Save options> and toggling Save RAW copies. These files offer better editing capabilities than JPGs or PNGs.

Find out more tips and tricks on how to use the Galaxy S20 Ultra to capture stunning photos of the night sky with Capture the Galaxy #withGalaxy article at website.

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