How to Photograph the Night Sky

Опубликовал Admin
19-10-2018, 20:00
1 878
Staff Reviewed If you have a cell phone in your pocket or have access to a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), you can easily take gorgeous photos of the night sky. To improve your astrophotography, avoid shooting in the automatic setting. If you're using a DSLR, program a wide aperture, keep the shutter open for a long exposure, and increase the ISO sensitivity. If you're using your cell phone, download a low-lighting app and consider photographing through a telescope. Once you've captured your pictures, edit them with software until you have the image you want.

Adjusting the Settings on a DSLR

  1. Mount the camera to a tripod and adjust the f-stop to f/2.8 or wider. Attach your DSLR to a sturdy tripod so it won't move or shake. Open the aperture (f-stop) of the camera to at least f/2.8 or wider so you let in a lot of light.
    • The aperture refers to the hole through which light enters the camera. To let more light into the camera, adjust the aperture to a wider f-stop like f/2 or f/1.4.
    • Consider using a cable release to capture the image, especially if you're leaving the shutter open for more than 30 seconds. This will reduce the chance that you bump or shake the camera.
  2. Set the ISO high. Check your camera settings to determine its range of light sensitivity. By dialing up the ISO, your camera will pick up more details in the low light of the night sky. Try photographing with as high of an ISO as your camera has such as 1600 or 3200.
    • Keep in mind that shooting at a higher ISO can increase the noise (make the photo grainy), so you'll have to edit in post-production.
    • If you're using a film camera, you'll need to load it with high ISO film.
  3. Turn the white balance to tungsten white. Because your eyes have a hard time seeing the true color of the night sky, it can difficult to set the color for your camera. Don't leave your white balance setting set to daylight or automatic, which will make the night images come out too warm. Instead, set the camera to tungsten white balance to get a more accurate color read.
    • To give you even more control over the white balance, shoot the images in RAW mode instead of JPG.
  4. Choose a manual or slow shutter speed. Since it's hard to get enough light for nighttime photographs, you'll need to leave your shutter open and manually close it or set it for a slow speed. Keep in mind that slow shutter speeds will blur any action taking place in the picture such as shooting stars.
    • The manual shutter speed might be bulb on your camera.
    • For example, set the shutter speed to 1/30 or 1/15.

Setting Your Cell Phone for Astrophotography

  1. Download a night photography app. Make space on your phone to download an updated night photography or long exposure app that works with your operating system. These photography apps are designed specifically for taking great low-light shots. Try one of these night photography apps:
    • NightCap Pro (for iPhone)
    • Camera FVV-5 of Camera FV-5 Lite (for Android)
    • Slow Shutter Cam (for iPhone)
    • Average Camera Pro (for iPhone)
    • Night Camera (for Android)
  2. Turn off the flash and high dynamic range (HDR) setting. If you leave the flash on, the image won't capture the brightness of the stars and you'll only see the black sky. It's also important to turn off the HDR because it will actually make the images blurry and dull.
    • Avoid using the zoom feature on your phone's camera because it will make the image look grainy and out of focus.
  3. Secure your cell phone to a tripod. To get high quality photographs of the night sky with your cell phone it's very important to reduce camera shake. Purchase a small tripod that has bendable legs and a base for attaching your cell phone. Once you attach the camera, bend the legs if necessary so the phone is pointed at the part of the sky you want.
    • If you don't have a tripod handy, set your phone against any flat surface nearby such as a railing, wall, or pillar.
  4. Consider attaching your cell phone to a telescope. Some of the best photographs can be taken by photographing through the eyepiece of a telescope. Set up a telescope on a a tripod and look through the eyepiece to adjust the magnification. Once you're looking at the part of the sky you'd like to photograph, attach your phone so it's over the eyepiece.
    • To take the photo, just tap the shutter on your camera screen.
    • Using the telescope will give you magnified and detailed images.

Taking Incredible Images

  1. Compose each photograph with an interesting focal point. Decide if you'd like to capture the stars, moon, or unique clouds in the night sky. To photograph the stars, try to shoot on a moonless night so they appear brighter. For moon photos, check the calendar to determine which phase the moon will be in.
    • For example, if you'd like a full moon, you only have 1 to 2 nights each month when you shoot the full or almost full moon.
    • To photograph stars, plan if you'd like them to be bright pinpricks of light or if you want a longer exposure that shows star trails.
  2. Adapt to your situation. Even if you adjust your composition and camera settings, you may have to deal with unexpected variables. Embrace the challenges and find ways to make them work in your photographs. Try different things since you never know what may work out.
    • For example, if the sky becomes cloudy or overcast, you might be able to photograph the moon surrounded with an unusual haze.
  3. Take lots of photographs using a variety of settings. Once you've chosen camera settings for a night sky situation, start taking pictures. Keep making adjustments to the shutter speed or aperture as you shoot to achieve a variety of effects.
    • Play around with using your camera's timer to reduce the risk of shaky images.
  4. Edit your photos in post-processing to get the desired look. Most photos of the night sky have been heavily edited to get high-quality images. Use your favorite photo editing software to crop the image, adjust the balance, and play with the contrast.
    • For example, photos of the night sky often have tiny specks of color or grainy pixels that are a result of shooting in low light. Most photo editing software has tools to reduce this noise and make your images crisp.
  5. Stack the photos in processing to make the image you want. If you're still struggling to show the intensity of a constellation or the trail of a star, use editing software to stack several images. Since you control the layers in the image, you can include planets, stars, clouds, or the moon.
    • Some camera apps may allow you to photograph in a rapid fire mode. These images are great for stacking.


  • Unfortunately, point and shoot cameras lack the capabilities to capture great shots of the night sky. Instead, use film or DSLR cameras to take shots of the night sky.

Things You'll Need

Using a DSLR Camera

  • Digital single-lens reflex camera
  • Tripod

Photographing with a Cell Phone

  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone tripod
  • Telescope, optional

Taking Incredible Images

  • Photo-editing software
  • Images from your camera or phone
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