How to Photograph a Glowing Tent and Starry Sky

We’ve all seen those incredible images of a glowing tent set to a backdrop of the twinkling universe. You know the images—the kind that make even the most dedicated, mosquito-hating, city dwellers want to go camping. In a few easy steps, you can master the long exposure night shot to capture your own stunning camping moments:

How to Create Glowing Tent Night Shots

  • Pick your spot and get there early to set up. You don’t want to be scrambling in the woods or up a rock face in darkness, regardless of how bright the moon and stars are!
  • **Tip: Use a star map app on your cell phone to find out the directions of stars—preferably the Milky way! Position your tent and camera accordingly in order to get the best star-filled backdrop possible.
  • Have a light source. Use a strobe light or shoot with continuous lighting. Point the light straight up at the top of the tent.
  • Be sure to diffuse the light. You don’t need much light with a lengthy nighttime exposure. A t-shirt placed over the light source works well to dim the light.
glowing tent starry sky adorama

Diffuse your tent’s light source.

  • Use a tripod. A long camera exposure (roughly 30 seconds for starry night skies) calls for a steady camera. To further avoid camera shake, put your camera into timer mode. Use manual focus, if possible; you won’t have to bother with changing it while in that position.

Shoot away!

And remember, even accidents can be beautiful. Play around with position, exposure and light. Rich accidentally turned on his headlamp during one exposure, which briefly lit the rocks in front of the tent. It ended up framing the image perfectly!

glowing tent starry sky adorama

Camera Gear

Rich used a Nikon D4s with a 24mm f/1.4 lens. He shot at 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 800 with a 30 second exposure. He used a Astra Bi-Color 1×1 Litepanel and diffuser with an Anton Bauer HyTron 100 rechargeable battery to light the tent. A Manfrotto MK057C3-M0Q5 tripod held the camera steady.

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