5 night sky photography tips and how to deal with light pollution

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Jeremy Gray

posted Friday, April 8, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT



Light pollution is the bane of any astrophotographer’s existence. Landscape and astrophotographer Jess Santos has five tips for dealing with light pollution and capturing beautiful night sky images.

What is light pollution? You likely experience it every night. It’s the excessive or inappropriate use of artificial light at night that disrupts the natural rhythms of animals, human and non-human alike. In day-to-day life, light pollution can upset sleeping patterns and negatively affect health. For photographers, light pollution makes it extremely to see stars. Light pollution is measured using the Bortle Scale. As the number on the scale increases from 0 to 9, light pollution increases. About 80% of people in the US live in an area with a Bortle scale of 5 to 8, meaning they can see very few stars at night, let alone the Milky Way galaxy.

The most obvious way to deal with light pollution is to find dark skies. There are a few ways to locate dark skies. One of my favorites, and one that Santos mentions too, is using Dark Site Finder. There’s also an app called Light Pollution Map that’s available on iOS and Android.

Maybe you can’t get to a dark sky area, then what? You can purchase a special filter designed for night sky photography. Santos mentions the Cokin Clear Sky filter, but there are many options from a range of manufacturers. These filters absorb certain wavelengths of light that are used in many artificial light sources. Do they work? Check out this video from Brent Hall to learn more and see some example images.

To see the rest of Santos’s night sky photography tips and learn more about combating light pollution, watch the video above. To see more from Jess Santos, visit her website and follow her on Instagram. You can also learn more about Dark Sky Week, sponsored by B&H, Slik and Cokin, by clicking here. For more astrophotography videos from B&H, check out the videos below.

• How to get started in astrophotography

• How to photograph stars

• 5 Milky Way photography tips

• How to take striking astro photos 

• Level up your astrophotography

(Via B&H)