Ocean City, New Jersey – Photograph the Milky Way. There are limited locations in New Jersey for Milky Way photography. This article will give you tips on getting the best night sky photos. You can make star trails if it is not the Milky Way season.


We could photograph the Milky Way and the town of Ocean City, New Jersey. We wanted to share some tips for anyone interested in photographing this beautiful location. First, Ocean City, New Jersey, is very dark, making it ideal for Milky Way photography. There are minimal light pollution sources, so you can explore the dark skies. We found out when we were shooting that it appeared to be the light from Cape May, New Jersey, which was pretty intense, so the spots we picked were not ideal for photographing at this time of year: August. We just needed to adjust our subject matter and the direction of the view. Next time, we will find the ideal spot in the town for photographing the Milky Way. Keep in mind the Milky Way also moves from month to month, so at the beginning of the Milky Way season, the light pollution would be farther away from the Milky Way.

We had the bright idea that we wanted to avoid the severe light pollution coming from Atlantic City, so we traveled past Atlantic City to this dark sky location and discovered Cape May’s lights are also pretty harsh. We got some good shots with strategic positioning of our subject matter.

Milky Way Photography New Jersey


We should have arrived a little earlier, before sunset, to scout the area better. We got held up and arrived late, which rarely ever happens. On our second night, the clouds rolled in at sunset, so we did not have the opportunity to do the Milky Way justice.  We will go back to this area in the future and do it right.  If you have any Milky Way photography shots from the area and would like us to publish them in this article, we would be happy to since you can see we need the help.

This is why we have this insanely colorful sunset image for you to see instead of more Milky Way photography images. Sunset here is phenomenal if you catch it under the right conditions. You can also see our older article – Ocean City and the Flanders Hotel.  If you like high-end luxury hotels, this is a great choice for your stay.

If you’re interested in photographing Ocean City, New Jersey, we recommend getting there early and doing sunset photography at the pier. You can also try locations other than those we tried for Milky Way photography. You must bring a tripod, a wide-angle lens, and a headlamp or flashlight to help you see in the dark.


Any time of year is suitable for general photography, but for Milky Way shooting, you must go at a specific time to ensure the Milky Way is Visible. Midweek is the best to avoid crowds. We cannot see the Milky Way after October because the core goes below the horizon. It reappears in March in the very early hours of the morning. Be aware that you must go when the moon is not visible. There is a lot of light pollution in New Jersey which makes star gazing difficult, so it is a must that the moon is not visible. Ten days before the new moon, it is below the horizon at night and rises early a.m. Be sure to check the moon rise schedule.


Looking for a Milky Way photography spot in NJ, look no further than Ocean City, New Jersey. This location offers stunning night sky views, and you can capture some images with some planning. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Ocean City, New Jersey, Milky Way photography experience.

1. Plan your shoot around the moon cycle – The moon’s brightness can wash out the Milky Way in your photos, so it’s best to plan your shoot for a time when the moon is either not visible or is in its new moon phase. Here you can find more details.

2. Arrive early to scout out the best shooting locations – It’s a good idea to arrive in Ocean City well before sunset to have time to find the perfect spot for your photos. It’s not as easy here as other places like Avalon or East Point Lighthouse.

3. Use a tripod – Night photography requires long exposures, so a tripod is essential for keeping your camera still and ensuring sharp images.

4. Set your camera to manual mode – This will give you complete control over your camera’s settings and allow you to experiment to find the perfect exposure for the conditions. SEE BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS.


For your GPS, Ocean Avenue, Ocean City, New Jersey, will take you to the beach area.





Light pollution map


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


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 will appear 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 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.


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 be sure to check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.


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



Start with ISO 1600 – 3200.  This is just 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, 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 on these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore, you should shoot wide open if. 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.


Now that the ISO and aperture are set in manual mode, roll your shutter speed until your meter reads (0) zero. Take a test shot and adjust from there. 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. You can make star trails specifically, but that’s not what we are going for here since we started with Milky Way photography. We want crisp, non-star trail images when doing this.

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, 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.


In live view mode, you can 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 when editing.


To focus in the dark, use your camera’s live view, 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.


The best images are usually of the dense part of the Milky Way. We can see this part of the milk way in the southern sky. During March, April, and May, the Milky Way rises above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours. In June, at about 10:00 p.m., you will see the Milky Way.  From July until October, you can see the Milky Way as soon as it sunsets, and it becomes dark enough to see about an hour after sunset. In November, the Milky Way no longer comes above the horizon. You will have to wait until March if you want to stay away really late or get up early to see her again.

See our Milky Way Hot Spot Locator and our Night Photography Information. 




We have discovered the BEST place to stay for Milky Way photographers when shooting the Milky Way in Ocean City, New Jersey!

Milky Way photographers don’t necessarily need to be in a high-priced hotel on the beach. You can be a very short distance away in an affordable, clean, laid-back, family-owned motel. We, photographers, spend a lot of money on travel. We like to look for an affordable, comfortable, clean motel with excellent service, and this was one of the best places we have stayed in.

Being a family-run business makes all the difference. What pushed us over the edge to make this one of the top ten motels we have stayed in was that the owner was outside with coffee and morning snacks under an umbrella, socializing with the guests.  We live in a world of corporatization, and it was such a pleasant time chatting with the owner over morning coffee. The big corporate cog would never allow for an experience such as this.

The owner of the family-run motel told us a fascinating story over morning coffee. We found it so interesting we went and investigated and photographed our experience. The Boulevard motel is just off the Garden State Parkway. The owner’s mom told him a story many years ago. She said when the parkway was being built, there was a holly tree that many wanted to be preserved, so they built the parkway around it. He told us supposedly; they veered the parkway many yards around the tree to save the oldest holly tree in the country.

We love stories that get passed down from generations telling the natural history of our land, so off we went to investigate. We traveled a short distance to the rest stop just past the Boulevard Motel, and to our delight, we found the holly tree. Being big advocates of saving trees, we were glad to see the efforts made to preserve the tree many years ago.

The plaque tells the story of how in 1959, they moved the parkway 120 yards around the centuries-old tree. The Shoemaker Holly is the oldest tree of its kind in New Jersey and maybe in America. The Shoemaker family may have been aware of its existence before they sold their property to the Highway Authority to construct the Parkway. Still, it only became known to the public in 1951, when the final stretch of the highway needed to be constructed.

The Shoemaker Holly is located at the Garden State Parkway near mile marker 23.  The Shoemaker Holly Tree is over 325 years old and is part of Upper Township’s rich heritage. It is said to be the oldest tree of its kind in New Jersey and perhaps the nation. The name comes from the Shoemaker family as the last owners of the property before selling to the Highway Authority to build the final stretch of the Garden State Parkway in 1953. Everyone assumed the tree would come down.

According to the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, Millville resident and Holly Society of America founder Daniel G. Fenton led the charge to save the tree. He worked with Gilmore Clarke, the Highway Authority’s chief architect, to incorporate the holly tree into the overall design of the highway. They created a beautiful 120-yard wide separation between the north and south lanes which we enjoy today.

Stop by the rest stop to see the tree, and while you are there, if it is the right time of year, you can also photograph this lovely patch of flowers growing in the field at the rest stop.  Pay some honor to those who put effort into saving this planet’s beautiful nature so we can photograph it or just experience it. While we were there, acknowledge the efforts of those Americans who value the beauty of our country and put energy into manifesting more of the same for our future.


area information - photography


Ocean City, New Jersey, is along the New Jersey shore just off the Garden State Parkway. You will need beach passes to get on the beach during the beach season.

Beach tags are required for all beachgoers ages 12 and older, effective from June 1, 2024, through September 2, 2024.

Weekly tags ($20) are available at the locations listed below (except the Knight Building), at booths on the boardwalk, and from tag inspectors on the beach. Daily tags ($10) are available from inspectors on the beach.

Purchase seasonal tags ($35) from tag inspectors on the beach, at booths on the boardwalk, or in person at the following locations (excluding holidays):

  • City Hall (861 Asbury Ave.): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
  • Rt. 52 Welcome Center: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
  • Henry Knight Building (12th Street and Haven Ave.): 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • Aquatic & Fitness Center (17th Street and Simpson Ave.): 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
  • 46th Street Welcome Center: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
The best hotels while doing photography




Link to Book Your Room

116 Roosevelt Blvd, Marmora, Upper Township, NJ 08223-1403, just off the parkway on your way to Ocean City, a short distance from the beach and a great spot to stay while shooting photography in the area.

As a Thank You to Loyal Customers who book directly through their website or by calling 609-390-1855, they provide TWO FREE OCEAN CITY BEACH TAGS per room to use during your stay. (A small deposit will be collected and returned when tags are turned in at the end of your stay)

Room features: Air conditioning, Housekeeping, Seating area, Microwave, Refrigerator, Flatscreen TV, Complimentary toiletries


 Put your campground information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number, and the information on your campground to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you. They are good at getting there in the dark.

Would you like to be featured in an article as a place to stay while doing photography or ghost hunting? If so, please send us an email. You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.



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.



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!

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