For anyone who is interested in doing astrophotography, getting perfectly captured snaps of the the Milky Way Galaxy is the ultimate goal when photographing the night sky. However, it’s admittedly a challenging a tedious endeavor. Thankfully, there are now many resources, like this one by The Finer Photo on YouTube, that you can use to plan your shoot ahead and make sure you get those stellar results.
To start, all you need is your DSLR with a kit lens and a sturdy tripod to get started. If you’ve practiced photographing the night sky with this easy astrophotography primer we’ve shared before, then you can consider yourself a step ahead. In his tutorial video, Roy Dufek of The Finer Photo also mentions the 500 Rule, which is a simple equation based on the focal point of your lens to determine the maximum exposure time before you start getting star trails. The streaks of light which indicates movement is definitely not what you want to capture (but they can nevertheless look interesting as well when you have an interesting foreground, but that’s for another tutorial).
After determining the maximum exposure time based on you lens’ focal length, Roy moves on to getting your camera settings right. He also reminds using the smallest aperture setting to ensure sharpness, and selecting the lowest ISO possible (100 ISO is ideal) to minimize noise.
Planning your shoot actually takes the most important and biggest chunk of the work involved to get those amazing shots. According to Roy, the best time of the year to do your shoot is between May to August in the northern hemisphere. To help him plan his shoot for May, he used a number of online tools to:
1. Determine the darkest skies in your area (yes, you don’t want any city lights to affect your photos);
2. Know when the sun sets and the twilight ends in your location, and if the moon will be out on the day you want to shoot; and
3. Most importantly, find the Milky Way’s spot in the night sky in relation to your location and the best time to capture it.
Watch Roy’s video below to get all the technicalities of his full tutorial, including post-processing tips on Lightroom.
Screenshot image taken from the video by Roy Dufek of The Finer Photo