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Guide to HERO11 Night Photography: Celebrating International Dark Sky Week with GoPro


The following words and images are by Imaging Solutions Technical Program Manager and accomplished GoPro night photography guru Shreenivasan Manievannan.

International Dark Sky Week is an annual celebration to recognize the importance of preserving and showcasing dark skies around the world as well as educating about the effects of light pollution. The weeklong event runs April 15-22, culminating on Earth Day.

For this years celebration, we'd like to share how best to capture the night sky like a pro using the newest HERO11 cameras.

Both HERO11 Black and Mini come with the ability to capture incredible night photos, night lapses, star photography, light painting, light trails and all things dark skies. The following is the ultimate guide for using GoPro for night photography.

Guide to GoPro Night Photography Settings

The three most important settings for GoPro night photography are:

Aperture: How big the lens opens. This is fixed at f2.5 on HERO11

Shutter Speed: Up to 30 seconds, depending on the lighting conditions and desired outcome.

ISO: Dictates light sensitivity with settings ranging from 100 to 3200, depending on available light.

On top of that, there are a few more recommended settings to fine-tune for GoPro night photography:

EV Comp: -2.0 to +2.0

White Balance (WB): Auto, Native or Range 2800K to 6500K.

Use 2800K for cold tones

Use 6500K for warm tones

Sharpness: Low, Medium or High

Use low to capture more details when output is set to RAW

Color: Flat, Natural or Vibrant

Output: RAW

PRO TIP: HERO11 Black and Mini come loaded with three hassle free Night Effect modes that make capturing creative low-light photography as easy as selecting the desired mode and hitting the shutter. The modes are: Star Trails, Light Painting and Vehicle Light Trails. So if the above pro settings sound confusing, opt for one of these simple options!

Modes for GoPro Night Photography

We will be focusing on two of the GoPro HERO11 Black and Mini cameras' low-light/night capture modes for detailing how to nail capturing the night sky, specifically. These two modes are: night lapse and star trails.

Night Lapse Mode

Night Lapse is the preferred option when you want to capture a fluid series of the night sky, whether that means several (or more) photos or a video, using a combination of primarily shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings.

Night lapse allows for two format options: photo or video. You can toggle between the two depending on your desired outcome of wanting a video or a still, but remember you can set the Output to RAW with a single phot, giving you more flexibility when edit in Lightroom or Photoshop after the fact. This final, slightly more advanced step, can really help make colors and details pop.

Recommended Night Lapse Settings:

Format: Video or photo(jpg + raw)

Resolution (if format to video): Up to 5.3K with 4:3 aspect ratio

Lens: Wide or Linear

Interval: Auto up to 60min

Pro Tune Settings:

Shutter Speed: 15s (brighter conditions) to 30s (darker conditions)

ISO: 800 to 1600

WB: Native 4000K

Sharpness: Low

Color: Natural

EV Comp: Leave as is because you are keying in the shutter speed and ISO, so EV Comp will be Not Applicable.

PRO TIP: Use Scheduled Capture and Duration Capture to be able to set your camera up before dark and have it automatically start recorded at a designated time and for a designated amount of time. Just remember to grab it the next day!

Star Trails Mode

Star Trails is an easy-to-use mode housed under the Night Effects on HERO11 cameras. It is the preferred option when you want to use long exposure techniques to capture starts streaking across the night sky.

Select between three lengths of Star Trail videos-short, long and max. The result is a stack of individual shots taken over time that are electronically combined within the camera. The only difference here is that you will only be able to capture video. But like with any other mode, you have the option to export a full-resolution still of your favorite moments of the video via the GoPro Quik app.

Recommended Star Trails Settings:

Resolution: Up to 5.3K with 4:3 aspect ratio

Trail Length: Short, Long, Max

Lens: Wide

Shutter: Up to 30s

ISO: 100 to 1600 (1600 is preferred)

Scheduled Capture: You pick the time!

Duration Capture: 3 hours or up to no limit

PRO TIP: Don't let the name Star Trails fool you! You can use Star Trails for capturing other night photography phenomenons, like Aurora Borealis, meteor showers, planetary alignments, etc.

We encourage you to harness the above tips and tricks to celebrate the Dark Sky Week this week and then share on social using #IDW2023 #DarkSkyWeek and #DiscoverTheNight or submit to the always-on GoPro Awards program!

International Dark Sky Association believes that light pollution may seem harmless, but it has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. The dark sky movement, like celebrating Dark Sky Week, spreads awareness about what we miss by living under a light-polluted sky and also shows that, by working together, we can bring better lighting to towns and cities around the world for all life to thrive under. Learn more at
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