Due to its advantages of non-contact, full-field and high-resolution measurement, digital image correlation (DIC) method has gained wide acceptance and found numerous applications in the field of experimental mechanics. In this paper, the application of DIC for real-time long-distance bridge deflection detection in outdoor environments is studied. Bridge deflection measurement using DIC in outdoor environments is more challenging than regular DIC measurements performed under laboratory conditions. First, much more image noise due to variations in ambient light will be presented in the images recorded in outdoor environments. Second, how to select the target area becomes a key factor because long-distance imaging results in a large field of view of the test object. Finally, the image acquisition speed of the camera must be high enough (larger than 100 fps) to capture the real-time dynamic motion of a bridge. In this work, the above challenging issues are addressed and several improvements were made to DIC method. The applicability was demonstrated by real experiments. Experimental results indicate that the DIC method has great potentials in motion measurement in various large building structures.