Primer on Shooting Long-Exposure Night Photos on a Mountain

If you have 20 minutes to spare and would like to learn all about how to shoot long-exposure photos showing landscapes and starry skies, check out this primer by adventure photographer Kamil Tamiola. Titled “Let There Be Light,” the video steps through many of the fundamental aspects of long-exposure night photography, from choosing the right environment to choosing the right gear.

The video is geared more toward people who enjoy learning through lectures rather than by example. It features Tamiola talking in various locations rather than demonstrating his points and showing the results.

Tamiola says that there are two main things that have a huge impact on the resulting photo quality: atmospheric conditions and moon phase.

For atmospheric conditions, you’ll want to stay cold, high, and dry. Heat and humidity can cause chromatic aberration, and shooting at low altitudes can degrade your image quality due to the thicker air.

Tamiola also recommends using a moon phase calendar to schedule your photo adventure sometime when the moon is less intense in the sky. This will allow you to capture maximum detail of the stars above the mountains.

Here are some example photographs captured by Tamiola:

Now that you’ve been primed, grab your gear and go out and shoot!

P.S. The video above was actually a “side product” of a photo assignment Tamiola recently did in the French Alps. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at that trip.

Also, a number of people around the web have questioned Tamiola’s explanation of the inverse square law. You can find the photographer’s response in the comments here and here.

Image credits: Photographs by Kamil Tamiola/Alpine Photography