Star Photography: 5 Tips for Capturing the Night Sky - Print Peppermint

Star Photography: 5 Tips for Capturing the Night Sky

We've all taken those photographs of amazing sights only to realize they don't come out as well on camera. Many have this exact experience when trying to photograph a beautiful night sky. But don't feel discouraged: it doesn't have to be that way! Interested in star photography? We've got you covered. These 5 tips will help you capture that beautiful sky permanently!

1. Get the Right Equipment

Capturing star photography isn't trivial: you're going to want the right equipment. You'll want a camera with a full-frame sensor so you can get enough surface area to catch the light from the stars. You'll also want one with a manual mode so that you can adjust the settings by hand. You'll also want a good tripod to hold the camera setting. The long exposure time required means that your camera has to stay completely still for a long time. Your hands or a cheap tripod will shake and result in blurry photos.

2. Choose the Right Conditions

Next, you'll want to choose the best conditions for star photography. Most of the time, it's best to choose a time on or around the New Moon. You can go up to 1 week before or after. Of course, some photographers take photos with the moon in them. But this style is much more difficult to achieve. Finally, make sure to choose a night with clear skies. Aim for less than 50% cloud coverage.

3. Pick a Good Location

You'll want to choose an area with low light pollution. This light pollution map is one of the best resources out there to find the perfect area. Being able to capture the Milky Way in these areas is even better. High elevation will also help you take better photos. That's because the thinner atmosphere will have less impact on light refraction.

4. Choose the Right Settings

Choosing your settings is vital to good star photography. To access most of these settings, you'll need to put your camera in manual mode. Here are the most important settings.


Most cameras have an infinity setting, which you'll want to use if available. That indicates that your focus point is infinitely far away (accurate enough for items in space!) You may need to adjust a little more to make it sharper, but that should get you close to where you need to be.

Exposure Time

For these low-light photos, you'll need a longer exposure time than usual. It will depend on your lens, but it should be somewhere in the range of 10 to 40 seconds.


The best aperture setting to use is f/2.8. While you may get more light at f/1.8, it will be harder to focus. Choose f/2.8 for sharper results.

Focal Length

Your focal length should be somewhere between 10-24 mm. Remember that the bigger you increase your focal length, the shorter your exposure has to be. In other words, wider focal lengths will work better.

ISO Settings

You'll want to choose an ISO in the range of 2500-6500. You'll want to set this last. Increase it as needed until your image is the desired brightness.

Image File Type 

Finally, make sure to use a RAW image file. They allow more editing flexibility for when you inevitably print out your pictures.

5. Frame Your Subject

Finally, you'll want to make sure you choose your subject and frame it well. What catches your interest? The moon? The stars? The milky way? Once you decide on a subject, you'll want to focus on framing it in the rule of thirds. Frame it so that your horizon is at the first third of your image and that the sky takes up two-thirds. Many cameras have actual grid lines you can use for the rule of thirds, but you can also use your imagination. Divide your camera screen into a 3 x 3 grid. Then, frame any points of interest (especially your subject) at one of the grid's intersections.

Now You're Ready for Some Stunning Star Photography!

Now you know the basics of star photography! Have some amazing photographs that you'd like to turn into a poster or postcard? Get a free custom quote at Print Peppermint today and find out how we can deliver you your favorite photographs!
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