5 Tricks to Taking Brilliant Night Sky Photos

Night Sky PhotosA few weeks ago, we experienced a rare night-sky phenomena: a full blood moon lunar eclipse.


All over the world, people ventured outside to watch as the Earth cast its shadow over the moon, shrouding it in darkness. As the crowds watched, they also—attempted—to take photos of the eclipse. The result? Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were filled with blurry pictures of a tiny, obscure dot drowning in a sea blackness.


While it’s true that photographing the night sky with your smartphone can be tricky, we’re here to let you know it’s not impossible. If you want to snap a pic of the Milky Way on a crisp autumn night, capture a few shooting stars streaking across the sky, or would like to take a photo of the moon in all its glory, then we have a few tricks just for you.


First things first…


Keep the camera steady


One of the reasons all those eclipse pictures came out blurry is the combination of the smartphone trying to focus on something low lit and far away, and the photographer’s unsteady grip. Using tri-pods like these will help keep the camera steady while it focuses in on the sky.


Get your camera’s settings adjusted for the darkness


The easiest way to do this is to put your camera into “Night Mode” if the option is available. If not, you’ll want to manually decrease your ISO and shutter speed.  This handy cheat sheet will show you how to adjust your settings, depending on the scene.


If your phone doesn’t have a lot of settings options, there are a few apps you can download to help. For iPhone users, try Average Camera Pro. Android users should check out Night Camera.


Keep your finger off that flash button


Artificial light of any kind will ruin your photo. The flash will only serve to illuminate what’s right in front of the camera—it won’t reach the atmosphere. In fact, using flash will black out everything in the background, including the stars and moon.


Avoid the zoom function


Tempting as it may be, the digital zoom function on your smartphone will distort the image, making it blurry or pixilated. Instead, snag one of these smartphone lenses you can attach right onto your phone to get a closer look.


Find a place with low light pollution


Once you have the right gear and settings for your night photo shoots, try exploring new locations. The further you venture from city lights, the more vibrant the stars will appear.


Get on out there and have fun!