digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

Get Inspired · Find Creativity · Seek Adventure

Night Astral Photography – an Interview With Jesse Summers

Learn how to create stunning night sky photographs with photographer Jesse Summers. Jesse specializes in night astral photography, and by using his techniques seen in this video interview, you too can learn how to blend foreground scenes with the night sky for images as seen in the examples below.

First a few tips from the interview as a sneak preview of what you'll learn, then the interview itself.

Night Photography Tips

arches-and-stars-jesse-summers

Exposure Time to Avoid Star Trails
Sometimes you want to capture the star trails across your photograph and other times you don't. To get crisp clear shots of the night sky without trails or blurred stars, use the rule of 600. Divide 600 by your focal length. This is the maximum exposure time you can use before star trails show up.
Finding Dark Areas with Minimal Light Pollution
Using this website app Dark Sky to find places around you where there is little or no light pollution.
Finding the Milky Way in the Sky
Use any star finder app like Stellarium. Stellarium shows a realistic sky in 3D on your computer and it'll help you look for the constellation Sagittarius. Find Sagittarius and you will find the Milky Way.
How to Focus Your Camera at Night
First, switch the focus on your lens from auto (AF) to manual (MF) – on Nikon you may have to switch it off on the camera body as well. Then turn the magnification on your ‘live view' to 10x and focus on any point of light within the frame (a radio tower light, a light on a building, the brightest star). Secondly, invest in a good quality green laser pointer and carry it with you for night shots. Use the green laser to paint light onto a distant object that you'll be able to focus on. Green is a different wave length from red and it travels further and is more visible.
(I apologize for the quality of video on myself, the light in my room was not working and it's dark – maybe appropriately so for a discussion on night photography.)

ruby beach washington with milky way

night sky over palouse falls washington

Jesse Summers Night Photographer

About Jesse

Jesse Summers is a Florida-based landscape photographer who specializes the newly developing niche of night landscape astrophotography. Composing scenes at twilight on nights where the conditions perfectly align, Jesse is able to incorporate the stunning center of the Milky Way galaxy into his landscape photos through the use of creative long-exposure imagery.

Jesse's photography has been shared extensively around the globe including by National Geographic. He leads workshops on night photography in Yosemite (CA), St. George State Park (FL) and has online photography courses covering his digital workflow.

You are here: Night Photography ยป Night Astral Photography – an Interview With Jesse Summers


  • Very good video. I learned something new. Great job to both Darlene and Jesse.

  • Gerry

    Lots of great information here. Foreground/background exposure tips very helpful. The focusing tip to use a green laser also very interesting. More information on brand and model would be good to know. Keep up the great work.

  • Akila

    Thanks for the information . Was very helpful .I hope to do some night photography in the future.

Next Post:

Previous Post:

Featured Photography Special

4 Weeks to Better Photography

An online
photography class for beginners


Join the Photo Community

10 Photography Challenges

Participate in monthly photography challenges. Join our very interactive community, participate in challenges each month that help you stretch and grow. Learn new skills and make your photos "pop".

More Articles Here

All my past photography articles here.

We publish regularly, so if you'd like to posts sent directly to your inbox, just put your name and email into the big orange box at the top of this page.

Adobe Training

Learn how to use Lightroom
Learn how to use Photoshop