Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

One of the best parts about camping in one of our parks is the incredibly clear night sky. These clear skies provide the perfect backdrop to see the wonders of our solar system unfold above you.

Seeing these magnificent skies is one thing, but being able to capture them adds another level to the experience.

Here are our top tips for night sky photography:

look at the weather

Perhaps the most important part of getting a perfect night sky photo is having a clear night sky. A really big obstacle is a bright moon. While a bright moon may save some battery power on your flashlights, it can really overpower the stars. (Although, if you’re looking to take some moon photos, this is your time to shine!)

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Many smartphones are equipped with apps that can check the time of moonrise, moonset, and moonset. You can also try taking some photos of the night sky with your smartphone.

Park staff may be able to provide you with weather information if you prefer to leave the social media network. Weather forecasts are also often posted on bulletin boards near the park’s main offices.

Wait for the right season

Every photographer longs to capture the beauty of the Northern Lights, but did you know when is the best time to photograph them? Northern Lights it is winter?

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Ontario Parks offers winter camping at several parks. Some even have heated rooms that would make the perfect base for your photography expedition.

Northern lights at Greenwater PP.  Photo taken by Stephen Foley.

In cold weather, be sure to give your lens about 30 minutes to adjust to the outside air. You may also need this time for your body to adjust. You’ll also want a backup battery, as the cold will sap the life out of the battery.

Pack the right equipment

To take great photos of the night sky, you will need a digital camera that can produce a exposure time of at least 30 seconds. To get a better quality image, your camera should have a “BULB” mode to allow longer shutter speeds, perhaps even up to an hour.

TO Mirror lock function will reduce camera bump, which occurs when the mirror moves up at the beginning of the exposure. This will allow you to obtain a clearer image through the reduction of any type of motion blur that can happen. Another step you can take to focus your image is to use a Higher ISO.

The Eagle Nebula, including the Pillars of Creation at the center of the nebula.  Taken in Inverhuron Provincial Park.

In terms of lenses, a wide angle lens (16mm or 28mm) would work better If you have one. For less pixelated images and faster shutter speeds, lenses with f2.8 aperture are recommended.

Of course, one of the best parts of photography is experimentation, so feel free to try a variety of equipment or make the most of what you have.

The most important equipment for night sky photography is a tripod. A heavy tripod is essential for great night sky photos because of the stability it offers.

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Location, location, location

The further away from the city, the better. The darkest skies are in the northern sky, far from the horizon.

Explore our parks to find a perfect location, perhaps somewhere with interesting features to put in the foreground, such as rock formations or tree canopies.

Globular cluster M22 in Sagittarius.  Taken in Inverhuron.

With these tips you can start taking your own photographs of the night sky. Be sure to tag us in your photos if you post them on Instagram!