Skip to content
How to Photograph a Rocket Launch at Night

How to Photograph a Rocket Launch at Night

An Incredible Tool for Streak Images

Perhaps the most captivating rocket launch image is the out-of-this-world streaking image. This is made by capturing the rocket launch with the shutter open the entire time: 2-4 minutes. MIOPS makes this easy and more enjoyable to do.

rocket launch at night

If you want to learn how to photograph a space rocket launch at night, here are some important tips you should know.

Gear Needed

Tripod – A sturdy tripod is necessary as the slightest wobble during the exposure will distort the crisp edges of the scene.
Lens – A wide lens is necessary. Do not use image stabilization and autofocus, leave them off.

MIOPS Smart+ Rocket Launch Photography

Camera – Any camera that has bulb mode & is compatible with MIOPS Smart+ .

Cable Release – MIOPS Smart+  and a mobile phone. MIOPS has more than a few cable release modes. Timed Release is the preferred method for this image. So, how long do you set it for? Launch providers usually post a press release of the launch on their websites which has the entire launch sequence in timed intervals. It looks like this:

Find MECO (Main Engine Cut Off).

Trigger Setting – Set the MIOPS Mobile Timed Release to about 10 seconds more than the time listed. In the example above, MECO is 2 minutes 17 seconds – set your Miops to 2 minutes 30 seconds to allow room for error.

Camera Setting – Manually focus your lens to infinity and tape it so that it doesn’t accidentally slip out of focus. Set a low ISO at ~200 for better image quality. Place a piece of dark tape over the eyepiece & take sample images, adjust the composition & aperture to achieve the desired exposure of the scenery. Be careful not to go too bright because the rockets flame may blow-out. A safe aperture to use is 20 or smaller.

When the rocket ignites its engines the entire sky will light up and that’s when you’ll know to tap the cable release on your phone. Now, you can let MIOPS do the work so that you can enjoy the jaw-dropping beauty of the rocket leaving Earth. Finding a location and getting creative is up to you!

An indispensable tool for media remote cameras

An indispensable tool for media remote cameras

During rocket launch procedures no one can be within a couple of miles of the launch complex. Media crews have special access to leave remote cameras in certain locations at the launch pad a day or so before the launch which means that the cameras will need to fire reliably on their own. There’s no second chance to get the shot and that’s why I use MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger on all my remotes.

rocket launch photography

The cameras will sometimes need to sit out for two days or more. Having protection from the elements is a personal preference of each photographer but having a battery to last is a requirement. MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger has a very generous battery and an amazing low-power sleep mode. I take extra assurances for my media outlet and plug an external phone charger into mine; the trigger still works while charging.

camera trigger for rocket launch

Sound triggers can usually be unreliable and aggravating to deal with but MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger revolutionized this with the incremental sensitivity settings that are always consistent. Setting up each camera is a breeze and less time is taken using MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger. We operate on a very tight schedule during launches and there’s not a lot of time to setup and experiment with settings and lenses so all these things are pretty much planned and set in advance.



Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!


Any MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger sound setting 15 or above works perfectly for rocket launches. The camera I use has a very fast frame rate and when the rocket ignites, the sound trigger fires the camera repeatedly with consistency and that’s what professionals count on. Having MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger attached to my camera is like having a second photographer on my team.

the easiest way to capture rocket launches
Photo of Tom, Credit: Thaddeus Cesari


MIOPS Smart+ Rocket Launch Photography

About the Author

Tom Cross is a professional & passionate rocket launch photographer for Teslarati and a MIOPS Ambassador. He lives in Central Florida 50 miles from Kennedy Space Center, which he eloquently refers to as ‘the edge of Earth’ because machines leave the planet from there.

His images are published in Teslarati’s SpaceX News articles
See Tom’s MIOPS Smart Camera Trigger review here
Check out his Instagram
During launches, Tom hosts Teslarati’s Instagram


Related Article: What is the Best Camera Trigger?

Related Article: High Speed Photography Explore Site

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping