Island Beach State Park, N.J.

Island Beach State Park Photography Location Dark Skies

Mily Way Photography Location – New Jersey

Pam Goodyer Fine Art Photography

How to Shoot Milky Way & What You Need

Light pollution map

Check out a Light pollution map before you pick your dark sky location where the milky way is visible.


You will need a camera to control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture manually.


A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you must increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain in your photos.


A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Remember that when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.

Sky Map

Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).


Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you can zoom in and out on the light emitting from the flashlight. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the  HP7.

Moon Phaze Map

The best time to go is during a new moon; you want to be in the darkest area possible. The week before the new moon, when the moon has not risen, is a perfect time to go, so check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.

Remote Shutter Release

When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. You can use the remote release or your camera’s built-in two-second timer when exposing your pictures.

How to Focus

Use live view. Use your camera’s live view to focus in the dark, hit the zoom button, and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to determine accuracy. It can be off a little on some lenses. You can also light it up with a flashlight, focus, then gently, without touching the focus ring, put the camera in manual focus so it will not search for the focus. You must do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.

Camera Settings


Start with ISO 1600 – 3200. This is a common starting point, and you will adjust from here.

Shutter Speed

Remember, the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. We want crisp non-star trail images. Here is the formula to avoid star trails—the 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, and Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length, then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.


Depth of field isn’t critical in these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore, you should shoot wide open. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go too high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO some, giving you digital noise.

White balance suggestion:

Use live view mode to change your white balance settings and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud mode as a standard setting and adjust things later.

Hershey Motel

This is our favorite motel in the area. We highly recommend this hotel in Seaside Heights when doing your milky way photography at Island Beach State Park. It is the nicest motel to stay at in the area with the best rates. Tell them we sent you. Check out the website here. (732) 793-5000 – 1415 BOULEVARD -SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ 08751

The rooms are oversized and immaculate, and the pool is one of the biggest in Seaside Heights. The front desk service was flawless. Easy check-in and check-out with pleasant service. We will only stay here when we are doing photography in the Seaside Park/Seaside Heights area.

  • Family-owned & operated, serving vacation needs for over 60 yrs
  • FREE breakfast for all registered guests (limited menu & in season)
  • Just one block from the beach and boardwalk
  • FREE parking
  • Refrigerators and microwaves in every room
  • Large, spacious sundeck
  • Banquet facilities available
  • Boasting the largest pool in Seaside Heights!
  • Separate kiddie pool
  • Ask about our Jet Ski and Pontoon Boat Excursions
  • Poolside service for our Bar & Restaurant!
Island Beach State Park Hotel
Island Beach State Park, hotel
USE camera information photography

Photography Information for Island Beach State Park


This is a dark-sky location in New Jersey. You can get a permit to bring your vehicle on the beach, but this park at night is limited to fishing. For the first time ever, we will tell you to lie. We don’t believe in murdering fish, but we do believe in photographing the Milky Way.

area information - photography



Island Beach State Park Information

Entrance Fees: Go to their website here.

NJ Resident
$ 6.00
$ 5.00
$ 7.00
Walk-in at Fisherman’s Walkway


 Restaurant Information for Island Beach State Park

Do you want us to send our photography and ghost-hunting friends to your restaurant after their ghost-hunting trip? Put your restaurant information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number, and the information on your restaurant to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you.

The best hotels while doing photography


Stay at the Hershey Motel

This is our favorite motel in the area. We highly recommend this hotel in Seaside Heights when doing your milky way photography at Island Beach State Park. Tell them we sent you. Check out the website here. (732) 793-5000 – 1415 BOULEVARD -SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ 08751

Add your hotel here!

Do you want us to send our photography and ghost-hunting friends to your hotel for their photography or ghost-hunting trip? Put your hotel information here. We will put pictures of your hotel, the website link, the phone number and your information on your hotel.




Don’t forget that you can use a rain sleeve on your camera if it is raining. If it is bright and sunny, you want to use a low ISO, such as 100.

If you are doing photography along with your ghost hunting on cloudy days, you can do running water or waterfall photography to avoid the glaring sun. You can also use an ND filter to get a long exposure for dramatic effects, even in the sunshine. If you ghost hunt indoors in abandoned places, be careful!