New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

How To Photograph Long Exposures At Night

By Justin Heyes on July 16th 2017

The earth rotates at around its axis 1,000 miles per hour and hurtles around the Sun at about 70,000 miles per hour, yet the stars in the distance seem to creep idly by every night. When deciding on what maximum exposure time should be used these Astro bodies can be challenging for those trying it for the first time. For astronomical photos of the Moon’s surface, usually, the Looney-11 rule is a great starting point (f/11 and shutter speed to ISO setting). Similar to the Sunny-16 Rule, it allows for sharp well-exposed images without a light meter. Star trails can be a desired effect, but for images of the stars-as-dots, the 500-Rule should be followed.



The 500-Rule states that to obtain a clear image of stars without trails, take the number 500 and divided it by the focal length to get your exposure time. For example, a 20 mm lens would call for an exposure of about 25 seconds and theoretically, still obtain the stars without trails. The team over at Mango Street demonstrates the 500-Rule in their quick tutorial that will help you get sharp images of the sky at night, even if you haven’t shot Astro-landscapes before.

Provided you have the right equipment, it mostly comes down to tweaking your camera settings. A wide fast lens, such as the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, are fantastic for capturing images sharp clear images. Another useful tip is to avoid light pollution from major metropolitan areas. Sites like Dark Site Finder help you find the area closest to you that has the minimal amount of pollution, though sometimes it is hours away it can be worth it especially if you have never witnessed the full splendor that is the Milky Way.

You can find more from Mango Street here.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.
Terms: #Exposure

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Michael Giordano

    Good article. Lately I’ve been photo stacking my Milky Way images to remove noise. Makes my shots much clearer. 

    | |