Our glowing tent

Our glowing tent

Photo of the Month with Outwell

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Jun 2014; updated May 2023.

Our picture of a glowing tent won the photo of the month with Outwell. Here are some tips on taking a 'glowing tent' photo too.

Chuffed to bits that my photo was chosen as 'Photo of the Month' in Outwell's e-cAmp magazine.

You can see it here on page 9 of their magazine: click to view Jun 14 Outwell e-cAmp magazine.

I took this photo of our Outwell Hornet XL, complete with tarp shelter, at the Buzzard's campsite.

It was a bit of an experiment, and I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but pleased with the result.

Here are some tips if you want to try and take a picture like this.

How to take a picture of a glowing tent at night

There are some great photos of tents glowing in amazing landscapes. These are usually one or two-man backpacking tents. I wanted to try it with a large family tent.

Unfortunately, you won't get the full glow effect if you take a picture with most small digital cameras or phones. And if the flash goes off, you won't get any effect.

I used a long exposure to get this shot. This is where the camera's shutter stays open longer to let in more light. On most cameras, the 'click' when you take a photo happens in under a second. For this shot, the 'click' took a few seconds.

During that long exposure, everyone else was inside the tent with lanterns and head torches glowing. Note that we were not on Electric Hook-up.

I asked them to 'paint the tent walls with light'. This was moving their torches up and down as if painting the wall.

Because the camera's shutter was open longer, instead of a torch beam just being a spot of light, it was blurred, creating a much larger light area.

If you look at the picture closely, there is a light spot in the middle. Looking at the height, I think this was our youngest who decided to stand still for the photo (well, you usually do, don't you).

A good experiment on the tent

You'll also notice that some tent areas are darker than others.

We shot this with the blinds down, and the Hornet XL blinds block out light quite well, as you can see.

Outwell have also darkened the sleeping area. Despite having two people in that area with bright head torches, not much light came out of that part of the tent, which shows Outwell's design is working well.

Equipment needed for a 'glowing' nighttime photo

Firstly, you need a camera that can take a long exposure. The de facto standard for this sort of photography is a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera. However, depending on your camera, you might find a setting for 'nighttime' photos. This will hold the camera's shutter open for longer, creating a long exposure, so you may be able to get the glowing effect without a DSLR. However, it might not be long enough to make your tent glow in the photo, so you could compensate by putting more lights in your tent.

The camera I used in this photo is a Nikon D3200 DSLR.

As the camera goes, this is an expensive camera. As DSLR cameras go, this is not so expensive.

Photography is a bit of a hobby of mine, and this model is one I've worked my way up to.

Whatever camera you use, you must place it so it doesn't move. Holding the camera whilst taking the photo won't work. The camera's shutter is open longer, so any tiny movement will blur the photo.

For this, you need a tripod. A heavy-duty one is best as they don't move as much. Unfortunately, I have a lightweight one, which is great when I take it hiking but is more prone to being moved (even by the wind).

There are lots of other tricks and gadgets you can get, but these are the basics.