How To Use The 500 Rule To Capture Better Photography

How To Use The 500 Rule For Better Photography

Photography has a lot of tips and tricks to capture the best photo, but every photographer has to learn photography as a craft which will be determined as best with their field. Being a photographer is not a skill learned overnight because every skill has to be discovered. Same goes for the process and rules of photography.

Techniques are best to be taught in your early photography career. A photographer needs to be armed with knowledge to practice them like a true professional, and sometimes eventually crafting them to their styles and techniques.  

While photography has a stringent rule, it is sometimes good to break this rule because it allows you to investigate and progress in different ways. It lets you flourish as an artist and discover your style too.

What is the 500 Rule in Photography?

In photography, the 500 rule is a classic photographic rule of thumb which most experienced photographers shoot at night and want to capture one of the captivating photos of the milky way that tend to blow audiences off their feet as it keeps the stars sharp.


The 500 rule refers to the adjustment of camera setting to get proper exposure of the stars and the milky way that assist you to avoid "star trails." It is to provide you with an easy adjustment of settings to remember the formula to freeze the star movements and get star trails movement. By using the 500 rule, you get a decent result in photographing bright deep sky objects using a telephoto lens.

Two Types of Star Photography

Nighttime photography has two broad variants namely star trails and static stars.

Star Trails: The earth is continuously moving with respect to the stars in the sky. Stars move in the same direction. Star trail photography is a classification of astrophotography where the trail of the stars is tracked continuously and reproduced in one image. The rule star trails is very easy to photograph, the stars keep on changing positions during the night and create a composite image (composite image are made up of two or more photographs, which are combined to create one photo. This can be seen in add, websites, in the news.) using all the photos together.

Static Stars: This is the exact opposite of what we achieve through a star trail image. Although a long exposure is being utilized, the idea is not to let the stars long like streaks of light. We want the start to appear small pinpoints. More like how we see them through our naked eyes.

What are the Requirements in using Star Photography

Night photography requires a lot of condition when it comes to photography. Necessary equipment is needed to come up with the best image to shoot. Here are some of the necessities required.

Tripod: For night sky photography, a sturdy, well-built tripod is one of the best essential equipment.

Camera: A camera must have a manual mode functionality which can independently and manually adjust the ISO, Aperture and Exposure time by hand.

Full frame/35MM Camera: It provides a larger surface area to "capture" the light of the stars and the milky way. Using a full camera will help reduce the amount of noise in high ISO images which provides a high quality of images.

A Wide Angle Lens: A wide opening lens will allow your camera's sensor to pick up as much as light as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Camera Timer: You need a timer if you would like to capture long exposure images of the night sky, longer than 30 seconds.

How to Follow the Rule in Night Sky Photography

Night sky photography is challenging but it is a lot of fun. If you have the right equipment, it mostly will come down tweaking your camera settings. The 500 rule can help this.  

In order to come up with the right exposure setting, take a decent photo of the night sky. Your shutter might open anywhere between 6 and 45 seconds to allow enough light in your shot. If you open the shutter open too long, your camera will detect any movement of the stars and your image will come out blurry. These are known as star trails. They can add a pretty good effect if that's what you're going for, but if you're not, you'll need to make an adjustment to your speed. That's where the "500 Rule" comes into play. According to the rules of photography, the longest shutter pace you can use before your photo gets foggy is equal to 500 divided by your lens' focal length.