Here are a few simple tips on how to photograph the Milky Way

  • Scout a location ahead of time and pick three or four sites for you composition, know where and when to look.  The best times in US for shooting the Milky Way is between February and September in the southern sky, rising in the west.
  • Check the weather; do you want a clear night or partially cloudy?
  • Pick a site that is extremely dark, far from the glow of  light pollution(city lights).
  • Things to bring with you,  it may be a long night before you get what you want.
    • Comfortable chair
    • Flashlight
    • Drinks & snacks
    • I also take an inverter and chargers so I can keep all electronic equipment charged
    • Your camera (duh)

Camera settings

  • Use wide angle lens
  • Use manual mode
  • Use the widest aperture your lens will allow i.e., f/1.8 to f/4
  • Use a tripod
  • Start ISO at 1600 and move up to 6400 depending on how dark it is
  • Use shutter speed of about 25 seconds (longer may create noise and star trails)
  • Focus to infinity, I focus to infinity with auto focus while it’s still light enough to do so then turn auto focus off
  • Shoot with a shutter release
  • Photograph the Milky Way
  • Look at the photo for composition then check the Histogram
  • Make corrections (small ones) to your setting and try again (f/stop, shutter speed, ISO or composition).
  • You’ve already spent the money and the time to get where you are so take advantage of it and shoot, look, change setting; shoot, look, change setting (etc.) until you achieve the photo you envisioned at the start.  It is not uncommon for me to take 25 to 50 plus photos of one scene.  Just as a note, after I capture the shot I’m looking for I’ll often change locations for a different composition and do it all over again.
  • Take a laptop so you can check photos as you shoot.  I use a wifi connection from the camera to the laptop so I can view images in high res as they are taken.

Have a great time and enjoy your shoot!