Generally speaking, if you point your iPhone up at the night sky and snap a shot from the camera, the results won’t be the kind of thing you’ll be rushing out to show friends and family.
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To be clear, it’s not a magical setting you can switch on to make your night sky photos instantly perfect, and it does require a little bit of effort. All the same, if you’re witnessing a perfect blanket of stars on a clear night, it’s worth taking the time to make the snap truly Instagram worthy.
So here are the steps you need to take.
How to take night sky photos on iPhone
1. In the darkest area you can find, open your camera app.
2. Night mode should be enabled automatically, but swipe up from the bottom, tap the night mode icon (it’s the circle with a crescent moon outline, next to the flash) and adjust the exposure time to the maximum ten seconds (it will likely default to two or three).
3. Point your iPhone up at the sky and press the camera button to take the picture, then hold it as steady as you can for the full ten seconds.
4. Tap the photo from your camera roll and press the ‘Edit’ button at the bottom.
5. Scroll across two to ‘Brilliance’ and knock it down to about -25.
6. Scroll across three to ‘Contrast’ and turn it all the way up to 100.
7. Swipe across one more time to brightness and turn it down to somewhere between -100 and -80 to your taste. Now the stars really pop!
Of course, there’s only so much these editing refinements can do, and for the best results, you really want to avoid streetlights and remain as still as you can for the full exposure time.
Even then you’re at the mercy of your iPhone’s camera hardware. So, if you’re packing an older model, be sure to consult our list of the best camera phones when you upgrade, if photography is all important to you.
For more on the iPhone 14 and its cameras, check out what happened when we tested the iPhone 14 Pro Max's new 48MP ProRAW mode versus 12MP shots. It's a very impressive difference.