How to Shoot the Milky Way
The summer months from April to September are your best and only bet to see the entire Milky Way in the Northern Hemisphere. The best months are in the middle of summer late May to late August. There is a multitude of variables that need to go right in order to shoot our galaxy.
Tips for Shooting Stars and how to shoot the Milky Way:
- Use a wide angle lens, ultra wide angle, or fisheye whichever effect you prefer but the aperture needs to be high f/1.4-2.8 works best. Although you get more sky in your photo with a fisheye I am not a fan of the distortion. I recommend this lens
- Ensure you have a sturdy tripod that can withstand high winds. I purchased this carbon fibre tripod
- You need to pay attention to the weather it needs to be a clear night, meaning no clouds
- The moon will need be illuminated less than 25% – typically you can see it best with a New Moon, but to get some foreground in the shot a little illumination is not a bad thing. All you need to do is Google “Moon Phases for June 2016 in Honolulu” for example. Then you can see the calendar with the detail
- Scope out your location prior to shooting to understand your desired compositions
- 25-30 seconds for shutter speed is a general rule – remember stars move so keep your shutter control tight and adjust your ISO if needed
- I shoot a max ISO at 3,200 as that is typically the highest I can go without too much noise and I use this camera here. You can really push your ISO if you like as well for social media usage which you can only view it on a small screen.
- Lastly, a significant part of shooting the Milky Way and the stars is of course the editing. I edit in Lightroom 6 and try to keep the image looking as realistic as possible and avoid over editing. It’s pretty cheap here, or you can go to Adobe and pay per month.
The Milky Way is my favourite thing to shoot without a doubt because of its ability to make your imagination explode. It also requires significant preparation and for some uncontrollable variables to align just right. An individual who inspired me to shoot the Milky Way in the first place is @ShainBlumPhotography. He has the ability to compose photos with the Milky Way like no other. His location is very conducive to shooting with good weather, accessible locations, and not a lot of wildlife to contend with, but nonetheless he is someone to check out and get ideas from.