5 Tips to Capture Breathtaking Night Sky Photography

This is a guest post by professional wildlife photographer and filmmaker Chris McKillican.

Capturing the night skies is one of the greatest ways to enjoy photography. When I heard about the meteor shower that was going to happen, I knew I had to search for dark skies in the remote areas of British Columbia. Quite frankly, that is a perfect mission for the Toyota Tacoma. This combination has been seen in my recent episodes of “Keep It Wild” with Toyota BC. In this new episode of “Keep It Wild S2 Ep1– Once in a Lifetime”, I will show you how and why the Tacoma set up works so well for night sky photography. 


Chris McKillican makes sure he follows Tacoma compass.

Chris McKillican uses his onboard compass in his Tacoma to help orientate a potential photography shot.


I like to keep things simple in my TacomaIf you’re shooting the night sky, you need to be aware of the direction you are pointing the camera in. I am always checking my onboard compass in my mirror to help orientate a potential shot. Looking for the Northern Lights? Look North. Looking for the Milkyway? Look East and West. It also helps to know where the moon will be rising, where the sun will be setting and where certain constellations will appear. Combined with some excellent apps on my smartphone, I can really hone in on the galaxy’s many highlights.


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So many batteries but so little time to capture all the breathtaking night sky photography.


Dark skies require longer exposures so if you’re in the mountains, which is generally cold, you will go through a lot of battery power. I use the built-in inverter in the bed of the Tacoma to keep my batteries topped up while I am driving to my next destinations. I also utilize the two outlets in the cab of the truck, especially when shooting moving time-lapses that can go on for over 6 hours or more. 


My Top 5 Tips for Capturing Breathtaking Night Sky Photography

1. Timing – The best time to capture night sky photography is when the moon is less illuminated and when the skies are clear. 

2. Location – You need to get away from light pollution, which is just another good excuse to get into the wilderness but be mindful of those headlamps!

3. Pre-Plan – Get to your location early and set up in the daylight if possible. Then, sit back and enjoy the stars.

4. Camera Settings Checklist – Check and double check through all important settings.

5. Composition – One of my favorite composition tips for night skies are to utilize foreground element for a sense of scale. Like your Toyota truck for example!


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Look to the skies and you will find the answers.


As with all photography, just getting out there is the best part of the process and everything after that is just a bonus. If you have any questions, I would be glad to help. Until then, happy night shooting and clear skies to all!


Make and Model
Truck: 2013 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road
Camper: 2007 Four Wheel Camper Eagle model


Image - 5 Tips to Capture Breathtaking Night Sky Photography   Chris McKillican is a Canadian photographer and filmmaker passionate about wildlife, people and the outdoors. Follow Chris’ adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.