Long Nights on Long Island: Wrapping our First Summit

On November 2 to 4, 2018, National Parks at Night hosted our very first Night Photography Summit. It was a remarkable success, and we are delighted.

Thank you to all the eager photographers who attended. Most were from Long Island and New York City. But not all! We had attendees com all the way from California and even Belgium!

We partnered with Rafael Pons, The Bard of PhotoPills. Rafael was on-hand during the entire event to coach people on how to use PhotoPills to plan for their shoots, and also how to use some of the incredibly versatile tools contained within that awesome little yellow app.

We also partnered with the Photographic Federation of Long Island, a federation of camera clubs spanning the region, to promote and host the event. PFLI generously helped us choose a proper venue, work with local authorities to obtain permissions for the night photography mini-workshops, and even shuttle students back and forth from the parking lots in the evenings. Best of all, they were shooting alongside us every night. :-)

Our lovely and generous sponsors were also on hand to support our passion for night photography education.

  • B&H Photo brought all kinds of tempting gear (and some very special promotions during the event). And, of course, they also brought Zaza candies and supercool buttons and stickers. ;-)

  • BenQ brought their line of photographic displays, as well as knowledgeable imaging experts to talk about how seeing your images at their best on a BenQ display is a final step for serious photographers around the world.

  • Bay Photo Lab sent an envelope full of gift certificates for free prints to give away at the end of each day.

And then the education. ... Wow, what a full offering. We did our very best to fill up the attendees’ heads with useful tips and inspiration, and we answered every single question. Here was the conference schedule:

Day 1

One of my favorite moments each day was Gabe’s early- morning group stretching sessions, with “seize the night” chants (below). It really put us in a mindset for success, right down to the last person. (Thanks, Gabe.)


The first day, we talked through some favorite images with Chris, Gabe, Lance and Matt:

One of our cherished (and proven) mantras is that it’s possible to make a good night photograph under any conditions. To that end, Gabe and Lance inspired the crowd with a presentation titled “How to Nail a Night Photo—Anytime, Anywhere.”

Rafael then stepped onto stage, connected his phone to the projector and proved that PhotoPills is not only the right choice for the night photographer, but that there is “a pill for every pain you have.” His presentation, “PhotoPills: A World of Possibilities on your Hand” had something for everyone.

Then Chris and Matt took the stage to present, “10 Steps to Mastering Light Painting,” during which they walked the audience through, step by step, the successful ways you can apply light painting to tell your stories with photography at night.

Rounding out Day 1 was an enthusiastic Q&A session with all four NPAN instructors and Rafael. We had to save some questions for the next day!

That evening our first group of intrepid night photographers braved drizzle, clouds and fog to photograph the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse. Proving our point that bad weather makes for great night photography, Gabe made this image during a demonstration:

Day 2

On Day 2, after our inspiring stretches and chants, Gabe and Matt opened up Lightroom and showed a live demo, “After the Shutter Closes: Processing the Night.” Each spent a good amount of time working through RAW images to bring out the very best in them.

Rafael once again showed us the magic on his phone with “Planning Star Trails and the Milky Way with PhotoPills” (below), which was full of fantastic questions (and answers)—not to mention a whole lot of people using their phones and tablets during the presentation to see that magic happen under their own fingertips.

After lunch, Lance and Chris returned to present “Photographing Lighthouses, the Sentinels of the Seas” (below). Truly germane to the work later that evening, they presented how to go about photographing lighthouses, including many techniques for planning and success.

We had one more group Q&A to cover anything at all. And we did. Love that part. Excellent attendees.

Our second and final night out started with a huddle at the base of the lighthouse.


After a confab about the plan for the evening, we headed to the northern end of the beach to look south for a half-hour glimpse of the galactic core of the Milky Way creeping to the right of the lighthouse.

After this, we broke up into three groups and worked on Low-level Landscape Lighting (LLL), star stacking and long exposures. The night was clear, brisk and a little windy. But everyone walked away with images to be proud of!

Day 3

Our final day began with a deep exploration of some of our favorites places with Chris and Lance, in “A Daydreamer’s Guide to Night in the National Parks.” Covering 32 NPS locations, and rich with photographic examples, we saw many people wildly taking notes about their next dream destinations for night photography. (Hint, we have some spots open for 2019 workshops!)

Lastly, we spent a few hours on image review. We dipped into Lightroom and gave feedback and instruction to attending students on images shot during the conference and at other times. Always a good way to wrap up, with clear ideas on how to grow and improve.

With gladness in our hearts, and stars in our eyes, we called the Summit to a close. It was three days (and two nights) of sharing, learning and growing.

We’re so delighted that you like what we do. Thank you for supporting us as we share what we love with you. Our success is your success.

We can’t wait to do this all over again with the crew of photographers on Long Island and PFLI. #gratitude

Note: Want to see us come to your area? We’re considering taking this show on the road. Do you run a regional camera club federation, or even a really strong, passionate group that wants to collaborate and host an experience like this near you? Drop us a line and let us know.

Matt Hill is a partner and workshop leader with National Parks at Night. See more about his photography, art, workshops and writing at MattHillArt.com. Follow Matt on Twitter Instagram Facebook.