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Top Photographers Share Tips on Shooting Outdoors at Night

Since the dawn of man, reaching all the way back to the ancient world and our earliest civilizations, we have studied the night sky. We’ve created stories about gods who live in the constellations; we’ve searched for meaning, and we’ve organized our days and years around the patterns of space. More recently, we’ve introduced technologies, telescopes, and cameras that allow us to see the night like never before.

Sadly, our connection with the night sky is fading. Last year, BBC reported that light pollution affects 80% of the world’s population. Street lights, along with lights from buildings and cars, have greatly diminished our ability to see the stars. A third of the global population can no longer see the Milky Way galaxy.

In order to witness the true night sky, we must venture to remote places, far removed from the noise of city life. To capture the night sky in a photograph poses even more challenges. We asked five outstanding outdoor photographers and Shutterstock contributors to tell us where they go to make pictures at night. Here, they reveal their secret spots and unconventional tricks they learned along the way

1. “Take two consecutive images: one for the sky followed by a second exposure to illuminate your foreground more.”

Mike Ver Sprill

Image by Mike Ver Sprill. Gear: Nikon D800 camera, Nikon 14-24mm lens at 14mm wide. Settings: My foreground was a single photo at a shutter speed of 25 seconds, f2.8, ISO 5000.

I did not like the motion blur of the stars at 25 seconds, so I turned my Ioptron Tracker after photographing the foreground to track the sky. The settings were shutter speed 100 seconds, f3.2, ISO 1600. I blended the two photos together in post-processing. For my flash, I used an SB700 with a pair of pocket wizards and a knockoff “Gary Fong Lightsphere” to diffuse the flash.

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