NP101: Nightscape Photography Gear Checklist

I love capturing beautiful nightscape photography, and I’m always happy to share what I know and what I learn. I’m keen to inspire others to head outside and look up at the sky, and to photograph the sky.

So I’ve started a series of posts with the theme ‘Nightscape Photography 101‘ – sharing tips and tricks to help you take better nightscape photos.

In this third blog post, I’m going to share with you my Nightscape Photography Gear Checklist – how to make sure you don’t waste a clear night out in the field as a result of forgetting some crucial (or comforting) piece of equipment or accessory!


UPDATED version 1.1. New items added as a result of reader feedback.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve headed out into the field to do some nightscape photography, only to find once I’m there, that I’ve forgotten something. I’ve never forgotten something critical like the camera and tripod, but it’s usually something that makes it much easier, or more comfortable. Like a headlamp, or insect repellent, or dew prevention, or spare batteries.

So I’ve created this checklist that I’ve now printed out and keep handy in my camera bag, so I can check it off before I head out into the field. I hope you find it useful, please feel free to share and of course please print out your own copy.

Printable version (opens in new window).

Camera Equipment

  • DSLR camera body
  • Tripod, Tripod Head and Mounting Plate
  • Lenses
  • Memory cards
  • Batteries and spare batteries


  • Intervalometer (or shutter release, self-timer)
  • Dew Prevention (hoteez pads, USB hand warmer, dew shields, 12v powered dew strips, 12v hair dryer)
  • Torch or head torch. Red light torch is best as it helps preserve night vision.
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Notepad / pen, or voice recorder (for remembering the best settings!)
  • Laptop or Netbook for data transfer and viewing of bigger images
  • Inverter and chargers to charge the batteries en route
  • Lens pouch to put your lenses in to keep them in your pocket/get them warm
  • Star Tracking modules (Vixen Polarie, Astrotrac, iOptron SkyTracker, etc)
  • Compass, GPS
  • Smartphone Apps (sunrise/sunset, milky way, moon rise/set/direction, ISS passes, etc)
  • Waterproof camera bag/hood


  • Inspect repellent
  • Snacks (food, drink, coffee thermos)
  • Warm clothes, light jacket
  • Good shoes
  • Gloves / Beanie / Scarf
  • Seat
  • Sleeping Bag

Printable version (opens in new window).

Is there anything missing? Please feel free to comment and let me know if there’s something else that I should add to the list.

I hope this Nightscape Photography Gear Checklist helps you avoid the wasted nights caused by forgetting to take some crucial piece of gear! :) In the coming posts, we’ll talk about everything you ever wanted to know about nightscapes, including:

  • capture techniques for the different types of nightscapes
  • processing tips and tricks
  • focusing at night
  • my thoughts about what makes a good nightscape photo,
  • my thoughts about what makes a good nightscape photographer

and much more.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. Let me know your challenges and frustrations and questions about nightscape photography, and I’ll add them to the list of topics I’ll cover!

Make sure you don’t miss any posts in this Nightscape Photography 101 series!

I hope you will enjoy this series and your feedback and comments will always be welcome. Please share with your friends too!

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12 responses to “NP101: Nightscape Photography Gear Checklist”

  1. Terry Cominos says:

    Tripod head and don’t forget the mounting plate!

  2. Roger Botting says:

    A second on the mounting plate. I once hauled my hasselblad kit and tripod several kilometers to realise that the plate was missing from the bottom of the camera. Time to buy a third mounting plate.

  3. Roger Botting says:

    BTW, nice site.

  4. Terry Cominos says:

    Mike, from personal experience. Trek down to Sydney Vivid Festival 2012, set up my tripod, go to mount my Nikon D3. S#@t! No mounting plate! It is still attached to my Exilim digital camera I used earlier in the week in Wagga for the “Transit of Venus”. Lesson learned… :-(

    • Mike Salway says:

      yeh it’s something you only do once! :)
      That’s why I created this checklist – after scratching mosquito bites for over a week, and missing out on taking some photos because of constant dew, I vowed to never again forget stuff! :)

  5. Ken Burns says:

    I have been happily using Stellarium Mobile on the Iphone. With GPS function and many other features, the $1.99 price is a bargain.

  6. Roger Botting says:

    Star chart can be useful

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