Have you ever wondered how to take a jaw dropping photo of a starry night? Better yet with an iconic National Park landmark in the foreground? Well, move over van Gogh, mastering the perfect starry night photo just got easier with these four pro-tips:
Have the Right Gear
As Ansel Adams said, “you don’t take a photo, you make a photo.” And in the case of nailing a perfect starry night photo, you’ll need more than a good eye to nail the perfect shot. Ideally, you’ll own/borrow/rent a DSLR or full frame camera and a sturdy tripod. But any digital camera with a manual mode and a manually adjustable exposure length (between 20 - 40 seconds) will suffice. Bonus points for having a remote trigger!
Set The Stage
There are 59 gorgeous national parks across the U.S.A. From capturing the arches in Moab, to Half Dome in Yosemite, to North Rim’s Cape Royal in the Grand Canyon, to Chiminey Rock in Independence, Missouri, there are plenty of options for creating that oh-so-Instagram worthy shot of a National Park at night. Just make sure, the night is completely dark and you know which way the Milky Way is. There should be no moon, or even half moon in sight. Check the Moon phases in your location before planning this epic adventure.
Use Manual Mode
Night mode, firework mode or any other pre-camera setting won’t cut it when shooting the stars at night. But here’s your manual cheat sheet settings: 25 second exposure, f/2.8, ISO 2000. (If your lens doesn’t open up to f/2.8 you can try 30 seconds at f/4 with ISO 2000, and if your camera doesn’t go up to ISO 2000, 1600 will work!) These settings will get you close enough to where you need to be, and then you can adjust from there. If you have a remote shutter - use it! Otherwise be very careful when pressing trigger to reduce the amount your camera moves, which will cause your photo to be blurry.
Practice Makes Perfect
Wear your favorite National Park hoodie, fill up your thermal with some hot-coco and commit yourself to the night. Use the viewfinder to understand the adjustments you need to make as the sky will change over time. Shoot in different directions and shoot different locations to achieve the most optimal perspective. And have fun with it! You’ll impress yourself with what you can do.
After you’ve captured the night in all of its glory tag your photo on Instagram with #WildTribute. We love to see your adventures in the wild and just might feature your photo on our feed! Good luck out there!