Matt Johnson

Night Sky Photography: A Beginner’s Guide for Glamping Enthusiasts

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Dec 9, 2023Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Have you ever found yourself stargazing during a camping or glamping trip and thought, “Wow, I wish I had the skills to capture this beauty with my camera?” Well, you’re in luck! Night sky photography is a great way to capture stunning astronomical events and the breathtaking beauty of the stars above

But if you’re not familiar with photography, let alone night sky photography, it can seem like an intimidating task. But don’t worry; with a few basic skills and some practice, you’ll be capturing stunning images of the night sky in no time.

How to take impeccable night sky photos.

There’s a bit more to night sky photography than just pulling out your iPhone and pointing the camera up. If you want to take the shots like a pro, here are the steps to get those results.

Gearing up for night sky photography.

Before you head out into the great outdoors, make sure you have the right equipment. This table shows exactly what you need to get started.

What You NeedWhy It’s Important
Camera with Manual ModeNight sky photography requires manual control over settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for optimal results.
Wide-angle LensA wide-angle lens allows for capturing a broader perspective of the night sky, including stars, constellations, and the Milky Way.
Sturdy TripodA sturdy tripod is essential to keep the camera steady during long exposure shots, preventing blurriness and ensuring sharp and detailed images.
Remote Shutter ReleaseA remote shutter release eliminates the need to physically press the camera’s shutter button, reducing the risk of camera shake and further ensuring sharp images during long exposures.

A good DSLR camera like a Nikon D810 with manual controls and a tripod will be essential in capturing the perfect shot. If possible, invest in a wide-angle lens to capture more of the sky. A remote shutter release or intervalometer will also come in handy to minimize any camera shake. 

Make sure you pack extra batteries and memory cards to avoid any disappointments midway through your shoot.

Find the right location.

Glamping Destination with Low Light for Photography

Now that you have your gear, it’s time to find the perfect location. 

Look for areas with minimal light pollution, such as national parks or designated dark-sky areas. 

Most glamping destinations fit this bill but check with them before booking your stay.

Avoid shooting near cities or areas with streetlights, as they can cause light pollution and interfere with your images. It’s best to scout out locations in advance so you can plan your shoot accordingly.

Understanding camera settings.

Once you’ve found the perfect location, it’s time to familiarize yourself with your camera settings. 

This might be a bit intimidating for those just getting into the hobby. But, after a few shots, you’ll get the hang of it.

If you’re new to photography, shoot in manual mode. You’ll want to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to capture the perfect shot. 

Shutter SpeedUse a long exposure time, typically around 20-30 seconds or more, to capture enough light from the stars and celestial objects.
ApertureSet a wide aperture (small f-number) like f/2.8 or lower to allow more light into the camera and capture brighter stars and details in the night sky.
ISOStart with a high ISO setting, such as ISO 1600 or higher, to make the camera sensor more sensitive to light and capture the faint details of stars and celestial objects.
White BalanceChoose a white balance setting that suits the lighting conditions, such as “Daylight” or “Tungsten,” or shoot in RAW format for flexibility in post-processing.
FocusManually focus the lens to infinity or use manual focus with Live View to ensure sharpness in the night sky.
Noise ReductionEnable long-exposure noise reduction in-camera or apply noise reduction techniques in post-processing to minimize digital noise caused by high ISO settings.

Depending on the lens and some of the features of your DSLR, your settings might be a bit different. Try those out as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Planning your shoot.

Now that you have all the equipment and knowledge, it’s time to plan your shoot. 

Check weather forecasts for clear skies, and choose a night when there is little to no moonlight. This will help to minimize light pollution. 

That sounds counterintuitive, but unless you’re actively trying to capture the moon or specific constellations, a bright moon can hinder your ability to capture the stars.

Set up your equipment early and take some test shots to make sure everything is working as expected. 

Consider using a star tracker or following the rule of 500 (dividing 500 by your focal length to determine the maximum shutter speed without creating star trails) for longer exposures. That’s just a good starting point.

Using Lightroom/Photoshop

Once you’ve captured your shot, it’s time to edit it to enhance and bring out the photo’s beauty. 

We’re not going to get into the weeds on these as this is an industry in itself, but it’s worth mentioning.

Lightroom and Photoshop are excellent tools to enhance your photos’ color saturation, contrast, and clarity to create a perfect shot. Image stacking can also be helpful to reduce noise in your photos.

Tips for capturing stunning night images.

Here are a few tips to take your night sky photography to the next level—

  • Experiment with different compositions and angles. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
  • Use a flashlight or headlamp to create interesting light effects in your photos.
  • Incorporate elements of the landscape, such as trees or mountains, to add depth to your photos.
  • Take multiple shots with different settings and combine them using image stacking for a more dynamic final image.
  • Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t turn out perfectly. Practice makes perfect, and each shot will help you improve your skills.

Those should get you started on the right track to capturing stunning night sky photos during your glamping trips

Practice Makes Perfect

Like all great photographers, practice is vital to perfecting your skills. Try different locations and shots, experiment with different settings on your camera, and make mistakes. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve your skills.

The night sky is a beautiful canvas for photographers to capture stunning images. It’s truly a great hobby to have when glamping.

With the right equipment, location, camera settings, and editing tools, you’ll be able to capture breathtaking images like a pro. 

Remember, every great photographer starts as a beginner. Becoming a skilled astrophotographer takes practice, patience, and persistence. 


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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