How to Photograph the Stars at Night with Your Phone

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A starry night. The stars sparkle and dance, taking each other in their arms and gliding across the darkness. The only light comes from the fires they burn. If you can take a splendid picture, then you are really set. If you are like me, then you probably only brought your phone to take a photo. Oops! That is okay! In this article, How to Photograph the Stars at Night with Your Phone, you will learn how to take a good picture at night. Do not be mistaken. It is difficult. Most people do not take photos at night because of how hard it is. Do not worry though. It is possible.

I have one more thing to mention before we get started. If you are looking for another helpful article on phone photography, then I recommend you check out my article, How to Take Good Photos on Your Phone in 10 Helpful Tips. It is much like this article, but geared towards the daytime. In addition to the guide you are on right now, you will be sure to benefit from this other article.

==> I Want to Learn How to Take Better Photos <==

Anyway, let’s get started!

A Long Exposure Shot is Key

A long exposure happens when your camera takes a photo over a longer period. This can be in a short amount of time like five to thirty seconds or a long amount of time in minutes. In either method, the quality of your nighttime photo goes up. It is the key to taking a good nighttime photo. There is less light at night, so you need all the light you can get.

Unfortunately, most phones do not let you adjust the shutter speed, but we will see later that there is a way around that.

My Top 5 Tips for Excellent Night Time Photos

Let me break down my top 5 tips for some good nighttime photos. If you do not read the rest of the article, please read what follows below.

1. Get Out of the City to Avoid Ambient Light and Be Careful with Moonlit Nights.

It is difficult to compete with large light sources. City lights like street lamps, cars, houses, offices, apartments, and museums can really detract from the quality of your nighttime photography. They will not help you take good photos of the starry night. You have to get out of the city and into nature for a high quality nighttime photo.

Also, be careful on those moonlit nights. The moon is a giant mirror. It takes all the light from the sun and reflects it back at you, so avoid it as much as you can. In other words, the moon faces the opposite problem of the stars, over exposure. A full moon can dominate a photo. In your camera app, you need to reduce the exposure to minimize the effect of the moon. For an iPhone, this means swiping down and adjusting down to reduce exposure. For android users, this means tapping the screen and then adjusting down. Depending on where you live, you need to be aware of the moon schedule.

2. Turn off the Flash and Avoid HDR.

Flash drowns out all the available light. You only get a black image when you have the flash on at night. For HDR though, it slows down the speed of the camera. If it is during the daytime, then HDR is fine, but you are taking photos at night here. You want a lot of exposure time. HDR slows down your camera speed, inhibiting good nighttime photos.

3. Zoom Out as Much as You Can and Do Not Zoom In.

Even though zoom sounds appealing, you want to avoid it. Unless you are a wild animal photographer with a professional camera, zoom out instead. As you zoom in with your photo, you lose detail, reducing the quality of your photos.

4. Lower Your Expectations so You Do Not Get Disappointed.

You are taking photos of the sky with your phone at night. No one said it was going to be easy. You cannot expect the photos to come out crystal clear each and every time. Take a deep breath and lower your expectations. To compensate, take lots of photos. You can always delete the ones you do not like. You will get a good photo if you stick with it.

5. Take Some Extra Time to Edit Your Photo

The one shot you got may not be the best, but it is still pretty good. To make it spectacular, you need to edit that bad boy. All professional photographers edit their photos and you should too. If you want to be Instagram worthy, you need to edit them. I recommend the SKRWT Photo Editing App. It has a lot to offer you.

Get the Right Apps to Take Good Night Time Photos

For iPhone users, average camera pro and slow shutter cam work well. For those android users like me, camera fv-5 lite or night camera work well. All of these apps help increase the quality of your nighttime photos. When you download one of these apps to your phone, you let the technology do the work for you. Developers put a lot of time and energy into making these apps. They make life a lot easier for you, so you can get back to enjoying that splendid night sky.

Do you remember how I said that a long exposure time is key? You cannot adjust the shutter speed on most smartphones, so you need to download one of the apps I listed to increase exposure time.

Set Up a Tripod to Steady Your Phone

If you want to take a long exposure shot with your phone, then a tripod will help a lot. You can use your hands. But even if you have hands as steady as a surgeon’s, a tripod is much better to take the strain off your body. You can hold your phone for 30 seconds or so, but it is a lot more difficult to hold it steady for minutes on end. Unlike your hands, a tripod will always have steady hands. You can set up your camera onto it and let it go.

Another important point to add, if you get a tripod for your phone, it helps to have a portable battery pack to go along with it. If you plan to take a long exposure for minutes on end, it can really take a toll on your battery, quickly draining it after only minutes of use. With that in mind, I recommend you get a battery to make sure everything is all set to go.

Are You Going to Get Outside this Week?

You should be all set to head off into the wild to take your starry night just like Vincent van Gogh. You are a painter just like him, but you use your camera instead. To take a splendid photo though, you have to test your skills. I have included a link to below. If there is a trail near you, the site is bound to have it. When I am planning a hike, I use it. So what do you say? Are you going to get outside this week? It will be sure to test the skills you picked up in this article.

==> I Want to Get Outside this Week and Live a Better Life <==

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

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14 Comments on “How to Photograph the Stars at Night with Your Phone”

  1. I will visit Iceland this winter, so I really hope that I will have a good chance to take a picture at night, maybe with the Northern Lights. This was a really helpful article, Alex, thanks for sharing!

    Have a pretty day!

    1. Iceland is a splendid place to visit. I, too, want to go there someday. The Northern Nights will make for a splendid photograph. I do hope you end up taking a picture of them. Please share your photos if you end up capturing a snapshot of that natural beauty. I and the rest of the readers here would love to see them.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. Hi, I’m used to taking photos with my samsung S8 phone despite the fact that I have a camera. Can you please advice what app I can download on my phone in order to take quality pictures especially at night?

    I will also download this SKRWT Photo Editing App to enable me edit pictures.

    Thanks for a helpful post.

    1. Bea, I have the exact same type of phone. As I mentioned under the “Get the Right Apps to Take Good Night Time Photos” heading, your best bet will be night camera or camera fv-5 lite since you are an android user. I recommend you choose the latter. Both will help you out.

      I am glad to hear you will download the SKRWT Photo Editing App. It works just like a charm.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. I am glad to hear you plan to take close pictures of animals. You will be sure to get some splendid shots.

      I suggest that you get a Nikon with a lens attachment. It will give you the best zoom available. You do not get much in the way of zoom on your phone. I hope this helps you.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. I have 60 acres North of Los Angeles and have always wondered how to take respectable nighttime photos. This site has given me all the necessary information to succeed in this arena. I appreciate you taking the time to make this post.

    1. That is a lot of land Stan, especially near LA. I am glad to hear you now know how to take nighttime photos.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  4. I truly enjoyed your article and learned a few things as well. I use my phone regularly for daytime photos, but just have never had it work well at night. I’m using an iPhone and was wondering if the app you mentioned is free or not. I plan on checking out your ideas but also wanted the app as well to edit it.

    Thanks for your awesome article.


    1. I am glad to hear you enjoyed the article Scarlett. Yes, it is common that iPhones do not take good night photos.

      Average Camera Pro costs $0.99 and Slow Shutter Cam costs $1.99. Both apps works well on the iPhone.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  5. Hi Alex. Thanks for the tips. I think a tripod is very important as it is next to impossible to hold a phone steady in your hand for a few seconds, let alone 30 seconds or more.

    Lowering your expectations is not a tip I expected, but it is probably the best one. You are right, we are outside in the dark and we are using a phone camera, so we get what we get. My Phone is a sony with a good lense, so I am actually happy with the quality of shots I get, and, yes, I do not expect them to win any awards.


    1. It is good to know you enjoyed the article Andrew. A tripod really helps a lot when taking photos at night.

      Yes, lowered expectations catches most people off guard. I could not agree with you more on your point that it is quite difficult to take good nighttime photos.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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