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The Milky Way: 30 sec @ f/3.5, 10mm, ISO 2000

Photo Tutorial & Gallery | The Milky Way

Nick Ulivieri | August 10, 2011 (updated 6.8.12)
 

Intro

I’ll preface this post by saying that the key to taking good photographs is to know your subject. Photographing the Milky Way is no different.  I’ve always been fascinated by science and astronomy, so when I learned I might finally see the Milky Way for the first time, I made it a point to re-learn what I thought I knew, and learn the things I didn’t know.

Before I get into how to actually take the picture, I’ve included some basic information on what the Milky Way is and how and when to see it in the night’s sky.  Of course, I recommend researching it even further on your own.  The Milky Way is an amazing sight to see in person, but when you know the true extent of what you are looking at, it’s even more spectacular.

What is the Milky Way?

To put it simply, a galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound group of stars, dust, and gases, and other stellar remnants.  The Milky Way happens to be our home galaxy.  Our galactic neighborhood is about 2/3 out from the galactic center of the Milky Way within the Orion–Cygnus Arm; one of many arms that gives our galaxy its spiraled shape.

The Milky Way is impressively large, spanning some 100,000 light years across. That’s a mind-blowingly long distance!  To put this in perspective, light travels 5,865,696,000,000 miles in ONE year.  That’s 5.9 trillion miles. Multiply that by 100,000 and you come up with a number too big for any calculator I know of to display in full on the screen. But not too big for Google!  The Milky Way is  587,849,981,000,000,000 miles wide. Huge.

At current estimates, our Milky Way contains between 200 and 400 billion stars…depending on which astronomer you ask.  A tiny fraction of which are visible to the naked eye, even on the most clear, light pollution-less nights.  It’s is extremely old, too.  Current estimates peg our galactic home at nearly 13.2 billion years old. 

By the way, scientists think there may be up to 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.  And while we sit here on this tiny pale blue dot called Earth, the universe is constantly expanding around us, growing larger and larger.  Crazy, isn’t it?

 

Where and when can I see the Milky Way?

Technically, you can always see the Milky Way since we live in it, but when I refer to the Milky Way in terms of photographing it, I’m describing photographing the galactic plane; the white, milky band that streaks across the southern sky.  As I said earlier, the Milky Way itself is a disc-shaped spiral, and given our position in the galaxy, our view of the galactic plane is head on.  Just as if you were looking at the edge of a frisbee.  What you are actually seeing in this white, milky band, are all of the densely packed stars, gas, nebulae, and dust that form this disc we call the Milky Way

Ok, so now that we know what it is, how can we best see it?

1.  Find a dark place: The first, and most obvious answer is that you must be in a very dark place.  As the human race continues to spread across the Earth, the amount of light-pollution at night grows.  In every urban and metropolitan area the stray lights of our cities propagating through our atmosphere can easily drown out even the most prominent features of the Milky Way.  To get an idea of the light pollution where you live, and more importantly, where you can find dark skies, head on over to this light pollution map (Green is good, blue is better, nothing is best).

The Moon also plays a huge factor.  No matter where you are, or how dark that location usually is, a bright moon reflects enough sun light to put a damper on your dark sky experience.  Here’s a handy link to find the moon phases on any particular day.  The new moon (moon is never is visible day or night) is the preferred time to view the Milky Way.  That said, you can still get a good view of the Milky Way for all but a handful of days each month before and after the full moon.  Depending on when it rises and sets, of course.

2. Time of year matters: For all intents and purposes we assume the stars are in a fixed position in the sky.  The Earth however, is not.  Our planet spins on its axis, at the same time it orbits the sun.  Because of this, the star field looks vastly different in the summer than it does in the winter.  That said, the Milky Way is visible during all parts of the year, but the most prominent features of the galactic plane, specifically the galactic core (pictured just above the horizon in my photo), are best viewed in the Northern hemisphere during the summer months of May through September.

I highly recommend the “Planetsapp if you’re an iPhone, or iPad user for determining the Milky Way’s position in the sky relative to the time of year.  First of all, it’s free.  Secondly, you can input your location, adjust the time of year, and time of day to see when and where the Milky Way is visible in great detail.  It’s a great app that will help you pinpoint the best time of year for where you live to view the most prominent parts of the galactic plane. It’s very helpful out in the field as well.

3.  Check the forecast: Weather can also be a limiting factor in viewing the Milky Way.  Obviously clouds and storms can completely block the night sky.  High humidity & haze during the summer months can also hamper your view of the galactic plane.  The end of August and beginning of September is a great time weather-wise because the humidity will start to drop during the night hours. But by that time of the year the galactic core will start dropping closer to the horizon, and ultimately under it, as winter approaches.

Tell me how I can photograph it already!!

Ok, ok, you know what it is, and where and when you can see it, so now we’re on to the good stuff!  The goal of this tutorial is to teach you how to photograph the Milky Way in all it’s glory while making sure the visible stars exhibit little, if any star trails without the use of a motorized mount.

The Gear:

1. DSLR Camera with wide-angle lens

2.  Sturdy tripod – a must

3.  Remote shutter release – preferable but not necessary

About the photo: I snapped this photo on July 24 at approximately 11:07pm while up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  Minocqua to be exact.  Facing due South.  According to the moon phase chart for that date, the moon was currently in the last quarter, or a waning crescent.  At the time I snapped this photo the moon had not yet risen but was still a few degrees below the Eastern horizon (left side of photo).  I am near certain that the light dome in this area of the photograph is from the moonlight refracting within the atmosphere.  The light dome directly below the Milky Way is most likely from the city of Rhinelander.  The bulbous portion of the Milky Way in this photo is the galactic core as noted by it’s proximity to the constellation of Sagittarius (Thanks Planets app!).  The Great Rift, is also visible above the galactic core.

My settings: Manual mode shot in RAW.  32 second exposure @ f/3.5, Focal length of 10mm, ISO 2000, manually focused to infinity

Detailed settings explanation: Astrophotography, especially without the aid of a motorized equatorial drive, pushes the limits of what a DSLR can do.  So I’ve gone over the finer points of the why’s and how’s of the settings to give you a better understanding of why I ended up at the above settings.

1. Shutter Speed: It would be great if we could leave our shutter open for 2-3 minutes, but unfortunately the Earth is spinning.  A shutter speed of 2 minutes would all but guarantee the stars to be visible trails.  Since the goal of this tutorial is to freeze the stars we need to speed up our shutter.  There is a formula for determining the appropriate shutter speed for any given focal length to ensure the stars exhibit no movement.  The accepted formula is 600/focal length for a full-frame sensor.  So if you’re shooting with  a focal length of 12mm you should be able to get away with a 50 second shutter speed (600/12 = 50).  I however, was shooting on a crop sensor.  After experimented with multiple shutter speeds, I found that even at a focal length of 10mm, 32-35 seconds was about the maximum shutter speed I could shoot to ensure no star trails.  So, for a crop sensor, I recommend starting with formula 300/focal length and experimenting with slightly faster shutter speeds until you find what works best.

Of course, you could experiment with slightly longer exposures to see how far you can push it.  With that said, you will more than likely need to shoot in “bulb” mode if you’re experimenting with speeds higher than 30 seconds.  For this you will want to use a remote shutter release.  It makes things much easier, and ensures you don’t touch the camera.  In fact, I recommend using the remote even if you’re not shooting in bulb mode to ensure you don’t transfer any movement to your camera.  If you don’t have a remote, set a timer.  This will make sure any vibrations you do transfer to the camera/tripod cease before the shutter opens.

2. Aperture: The sky is dark, the ground is dark, everything is dark.  And since we have a finite period of time the shutter can be open you want to shoot with your aperture as wide open as possible.  In the case of the wide-angle lens I was using, f/3.5 was as wide open as I could go.  Next time, I’ll either use my mid-range f/2.8 or rent a wide-angle with a larger maximum aperture.  As I said earlier, we’re pushing the limits of a DSLR so in order to achieve a good photo of the star field, you will have to fore go the sharpness that you may be used to at smaller apertures.

3. Focal length: The focal length you choose is up to you.  It’s really a matter of composition.  That said, remember that the shorter your focal length, the longer your maximum shutter speed can be, thus ensuring a more exposed, and prominent, Milky Way.

4. ISO: For all of you that are afraid of using high ISO’s because of the noise, you’re going to have to go well outside of your comfort zone if you want to capture the Milky Way in any detail.  We’re limited on shutter speed, and limited on the maximum aperture. The only other option is to bump up the ISO.  I found that on my camera ISO 2000, gave me a good balance of exposure while limiting the amount of noise in the shot. Though you should also try higher ISO’s to see what works best for your camera.

5. Focus: Manually set your focus to infinity.  At the light levels you will be working in, auto-focus will be all but useless.

6. RAW: Make sure you’re shooting in RAW.  If you plan to do any post-processing, which I can almost guarantee you will, you’re going to want the highest quality file to work on.

More tips and tricks: You’ve made it this far, why not learn a few more things?

1.  Make sure you put your tripod on a sturdy surface, seems pretty simple but is very important.  If your tripod is less than sturdy, you can hang a weight from it for added heft.  Beware though, a light breeze can blow the weight and shake the tripod.  It’s best to make sure the weight is on the ground and attached with a taught cord or rope.

2.  Before you even take a “final” photo, do some test shots.  Up your shutter speed to a minute, crank up your ISO way high, etc.  The point here is to get an overexposed image on your LCD so you can determine the composition of your scene.  It’s near impossible to see the finer details of your vista, or square up your horizon through the viewfinder when it is that dark.  Use the over exposed image to help you set-up the best composition for your particular location.

3. Pixel peep.  Once you’ve taken your test shots and have moved onto your final photos, make sure you carefully review each image and learn from it.  Zoom way in, and check to see if you have star trails.  What might look good on your camera’s LCD screen at full-size, might not look so good zoomed in, or worse, on your computer once you are done shooting.  Are there star trails? Do they look oblong? Or are they fine points of light? Was there an airplane flying in the distance?  Double and triple check your images before you finish shooting for the night.

4.  Your LCD is bright, everything else is not.  If you can turn the brightness of your LCD down do it.  If you can flip it out of the way, do it.  Especially if you are trying to use your viewfinder for compositional adjustments. Looking back and forth between the bright LCD screen and the dark landscape ahead will save your eyes a bit of time trying to adjust to the fluctuation light levels

5.  Noise Reduction (update): I had originally suggested  Turning off any in-camera ISO or Long Exposure noise reduction (LENR) functions on the camera, because I wanted the instant feedback, however, one of my readers left a great comment about why and when you should leave it on:

“When using noise reduction, an equivalent black frame is being shot. It’s a common misconception that noise reduction works like it does in Photoshop. Black frame noise reduction works by exposing an equivalent shot (using all the same exposure parameters) but with the shutter closed. Then, anything whatsoever that appears in the theoretically black print is noise. This is usually the result of heat in your CMOS or CCD. The camera then subtracts these signal values from your photo.This type of noise reduction is only possible in camera and is far superior to noise reduction using single image algorithms like those found in Photoshop. My advice is to leave the noise reduction on for shooting the Milky Way. If you’re stacking exposures (another form of noise reduction common in astrophotography) then you should leave off in camera noise reduction. Also, if you’re stacking images for longer trails, then also leave it off. But for the most part, leave it on. Your stars, even your faint ones, should be safe.Just my $.22 (adjusted for inflation)”

 6.  A note on post-processing: Unless you really pushed your ISO, you’ll probably notice you need to bring the photo into your favorite post-processing software to polish it up. A small bump in exposure was necessary in my photo.  The higher ISO also lowered the overall contrast of the image.  So I upped the contrast as well as manipulated the tone curve.  I bumped up the highlights to make the bright stars pop and lightly brought down the darks and shadows to saturate the blacks.  Small bumps in color saturation were also made to bring out some of the color present in the galactic plane.  Lastly, I performed some digital noise reduction.  Though I don’t push it too far.  Too much noise reduction on a photo of stars does a funny thing –  At high levels of reduction, some of the fainter stars disappear.  I can only assume the software thinks these small stars themselves are noise.

7.  Lastly, please make sure to spend spend some time enjoying the view with your own two eyes! 

Have fun, happy shooting!

-Nick

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Sources & more info:

A few more shots on my Flickr page

Wikipedia: The Milky Way

Wikipedia: Galaxy

 



 

48 Responses to “Photo Tutorial & Gallery | The Milky Way”

  1. August 13th, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Nice article!

  2. August 13th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Great stuff. I just did some night photography while camping in Arkansas. I ran into many of the problems your wrote about, and hacked through them by trial and error. Check out my site and let me know your thoughts.

  3. August 13th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Glad you enjoyed! Hope you can put it to good use

  4. August 13th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks, Todd. Part of the fun is trying to figure it out yourself. I’ll check out your site in a little bit

  5. October 24th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Hey Nick, great article! You mentioned using a remote shutter release, but I also wanted to point out that the mirror lock-up function will decrease vibration even more. This is usually located in custom settings (in Canon cameras, at least). It will flip the mirror into place when you first press the button, then only open the shutter on a second button-press. This ensures that there’s no vibration in your photo from the mirror snapping into place.

  6. October 27th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Great point, Matt! I’ll have to go back in and add that.

  7. November 13th, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Just wanted to say that the article was great. Looking forward to going out and trying this for myself. Saw this in November so I am hoping that I can still get fairly good shots of the Galaxy. If they come out good, I will post them on my site (listed above)

    Thanks again for the great article.

    Mike Romano
    M Romano Photography

  8. November 28th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    This is really a great article Nick.
    Since this was your first sighting of the milky way and your first time to photograph it, it is apparent that you took your own advice about studying and researching your subject before attempting to photograph it. I am looking forward to searching out and photographing the milky way this summer. Not only have you paved the way for me but also greatly shortened my journey and inspired me to carry through. Thank you.

  9. December 31st, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Incredibly useful – many thanks for the post.

  10. December 31st, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Informative and well written article. Thanks a lot for toching even the minute things that might effect the shot. The best tutorial I have ever read in Photography and more so, on Astro photography.

    Happy New Year !

  11. January 20th, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for this. No where else had I seen that bit about turning off the noise reduction. I always assumed that the “recycle” time after longer exposures was inevitable. I just tried it out and I feel like I opened the door for so much improvement!

  12. January 24th, 2012 at 8:56 am

    You’re welcome! This feature is extremely helpful if you are taking many exposures one after another to later layer into “star trails”. With virtually no recycle time, you have a better chance of creating seamless arcs in the sky.

  13. January 29th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Thank you so much Nick.
    This is well written, easy to follow and examples of do’s/dont’s are helpful.
    I just received a Sigma 12-24mm for my FF Canon 5D2 and am inspired by your images of the Milky Way. I will plan and try to get a capture myself :) I added this tutorial to my Facecrack page so I have quick access to it.
    Take it Light,
    Carlton

  14. February 2nd, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Carlton! I’m glad I could be of help. The mid-summer months will be best time for viewing the galactic core, the densest part of the Milky Way. A this time of year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re looking towards the outside arms of the galaxy. Good luck – When you give it a try, stop back and let me know how it went!

  15. February 29th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    [...] official photography thread Like these. Dan’s Diary: How to Photograph the Milky Way Photo Tutorial & Gallery | The Milky Way | Nick Ulivieri Photography Secrets of the Milky Way – Jim [...]

  16. March 4th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    This is crazy helpful!

    I’ll hike my local mountain tonight (4000m) and make some milky way time lapses. With you help i think it will turn out great :)

  17. March 5th, 2012 at 8:51 am

    That’s awesome Jakob! Good luck to you. I’d love to see it when you’re done!

  18. March 22nd, 2012 at 11:55 am

    very interesting article & great “HOW TO” guidelines also…dramatic ideas and a huge panaroma of “the milky way” how fascinating, right? xoxo WOW

  19. April 9th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Nice article. And nice photo above.

    Like another commenter pointed out, when you have that long delay after your shot, from using noise reduction, an equivalent black frame is being shot. It’s a common misconception that noise reduction works like it does in Photoshop. Black frame noise reduction works by exposing an equivalent shot (using all the same exposure parameters) but with the shutter closed. Then, anything whatsoever that appears in the theoretically black print is noise. This is usually the result of heat in your CMOS or CCD. The camera then subtracts these signal values from your photo.

    This type of noise reduction is only possible in camera and is far superior to noise reduction using single image algorithms like those found in Photoshop. My advice is to leave the noise reduction on for shooting the Milky Way. If you’re stacking exposures (another form of noise reduction common in astrophotography) then you should leave off in camera noise reduction. Also, if you’re stacking images for longer trails, then also leave it off. But for the most part, leave it on. Your stars, even your faint ones, should be safe.

    Just my $.22 (adjusted for inflation)

  20. April 9th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    And I should add, when you’re stacking exposures for noise reduction in astrophotography, a tracking motor is required. So this doesn’t really apply for shots that include foreground, unless special measures are taken (such as using a flash or comping in the foreground, for instance).

    This is my understanding, anyway. Still so much to learn.

  21. April 10th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Tony. Thanks for the detailed explanation! This was my first time shooting the Milky Way and I wanted to document how I did it for others who wanted to try it for the first time as well. Next time I’m out in a dark place, I i will make sure to turn NR on. And if you don’t mind, I may paraphrase your comment into my post to clarify my suggestions on noise reduction. Thanks again!

  22. May 2nd, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you very much for your logical and practical advice.

  23. May 6th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Absolutely brilliant guide! I have never considered the 1.6 X crop factor of my camera when photographing stars, and was always disappointed by the results. Now I know why! Excellent guide!

  24. May 8th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I’m glad I could help, Ben. The crop factor makes a HUGE difference. You’ll probably have to bump up the ISO to even out the exposure, but pinpoints of light and noise are better than slight star trails and less noise. Also, check out Troy’s post in the comment section. He has a great synopsis of noise reduction that I haven’t gotten around to editing in my post. Good luck!

  25. May 17th, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Hi Nick, I really liked you tips and would like to follow. I would like to know if it is possible for me to shoot milky way from my kit lens 18-55mm as there is no infinity settings(I don’t know how to set it for infinity and then where should I focus). I have Canon 600D. Also, how I can check where in the sky I can find milky way. I live in India.

    Regards,

    Shatrughan

  26. May 21st, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thanks, Shatrughan! Check you’re e-mail!

  27. June 19th, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Great article, learned a few new things.

    Since you talk about using or not the in camera noise reduction, I could suggest one more technique that simulates the in camera process and can be applied into night sky photography. Having the NR function turned off, and after we had our last shot, we take one more BUT this time with the lens cap on. Same settings as before but with the lens cap. This will give us the same black frame the camera uses for the NR process. Then we go into photoshop and simply subtract that frame from our pictures.

    The only bad thing that can happen is that if you overdo it with the long exposures you might as well get too much pixels overheated -hence produce a non repairable picture.

    I been using this technique for long night shots of thunderstorms, where I can’t just wait for the NR process to be completed but still want those hot pixels gone.

  28. July 2nd, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Wow, that is actually Brilliant Article. Hats off to you, sir !

    So as the matter of fact that i have a craze of photographying milky way,i don’t have a DSLR. I mean, i do photography and according to my community, they are Awesome. But i can’t photograph this milky way with my Semi-Professional Canon Machine. So, i guess i need a Good, i mean Great, DSLR camera to get awesome shots.
    Now, please suggest me which one to buy since i have no previous experience of buying cameras and i am sure i am not going to invest in cameras for the 2nd time (anytime soon. Because i am still an Engineering Student ), so please suggest something affordable yet so awesome that the results can envy others :)

    Thanks and again, very nice and informative Article !

  29. July 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for the comments. At the time I took this I used a Nikon D5000 which is a relatively entry-level DSLR, though i did have a wide-angle lens with me (Nikkor 10-24mm). I venrue a guess you could do it with just about any DSLR assuming you can get/rent a wide-angle lens. The major benefit more expensive cameras have are their ability to have lower noise levels at higher ISO’s. If you do it right, you should be able to get an acceptable shot of the Milky Way with any entry-level DSLR/Wide-Angle lens combo.

  30. July 8th, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Nick, just wanted to say thanks for posting these guidelines for shooting the Milkyway. This has to be the best instruction I’ve seen published on the internet, and your image is beautiful.

    Last month I visited Joshua Tree National Park to photograph the Milkyway, and used your instructions with much success. Given that this was my first attempt at photographing the MW, I am quite happy with how the image turned out. I’m hooked, and can’t wait to try this again. Thanks again!!

  31. July 11th, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Thank you so much Nick! I’m gonna try it out this week!

  32. July 13th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    You’re welcome! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  33. July 13th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for the compliments, Cheryl. You’re welcome! When I set out to make this tutorial, I had no clue how many people it would help – and now it’s the second result on google! All I did was write what I did as detailed, and descriptive as I could. I too can not wait until I can get back to some dark skies. Living in Chicago definitely doesn’t make it easy to just go out and shoot whenever I can. T

  34. July 30th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Wow – this worked flawlessly. We now have milky way photos! Thanks for the easy to use instructions.

  35. July 30th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Great! Glad to hear it. Thanks for the update.

  36. August 14th, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Hi Nick,

    First off, very nice photo and thanks for the great tips! I like trying to take photos of the stars in general (haven’t had a chance to photograph the Milky Way yet) and these tips definitely will help. I’ve already kinda of figured out most of that just by experimenting, but it’s nice to see it laid out and organized so well and to see how other people are doing it.

    Quick side note, I did a Google search for “how to take pictures of the milky way galaxy” and you’re number 1 on the list. Congrats! At first I was worried about commenting since this article is now a year old, but seeing as the comments have spanned across that entire time I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.

    One thing I would like to point out (and I swear, I’m not trying to be a snob or anything) is how to calculate the optimal shutter speed time based on your focal length. Instead of doing 300/focal length for a cropped sensor, you can do 600/focal length/crop factor (or 600/crop factor/focal length, doesn’t matter). So, with 10mm it would be 600/10/1.6 (for Canon crops) and 600/10/1.5 (for Nikon crops, I believe), which would result in 37.5 seconds and 40 seconds, respectively. That was a little higher than what you had, so it’s still not perfect but hey, just another option.

    Lastly (shameless plug about to happen), I founded a project called The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Photography, which can be found at http://thephotographyguide.org/ (it’s also linked in the website boxed of the comment submission form). Basically, it’s a project to create an open source guide for photographers of all kinds, regardless of skill level and gear. Anyone can contribute stuff to it and anyone can use it (meaning it’s free!), so hopefully it can help awesome photography info, like this article, be easily accessible to everybody and available when and where they need it. I only launched it this Spring (2012), so it’s still rather small and very much a work in progress (however, people will hopefully always be adding to it, so it will always be a “work in progress”). I’m also currently reworking the interface and such, so it’s a little messy at the moment (sorry!). Also, right now I’m still working on writing a section called “The Basics” and, while it’s fun, it’s much more of a challenge than I anticipated (I am, after all, still an amateur myself).

    Anyway, now that you’ve got some background info, I have a request. At some point, I would like to include your tutorial here in The Guide. I think it would make a great starting point for anyone wanting to photograph the Milky Way, or just stars in general (obviously Google thinks it is too, seeing as you are the #1 result). If you like, you can email me and we can discuss it more if there’s anything you want to know. You can go ahead and add it yourself to The Guide anytime you like as well (that’s really how I envision the project working, photographers sharing with other photographers without any middlemen of sorts).

    Thanks so much for reading (apologies for such a long comment), and again, very nice photograph!

    Regards,
    Matt

  37. August 16th, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Matt, thanks for stoping by and commenting. Sorry for the late response as well. I’m glad you found this helpful. I myself was pretty blown away by showing up in Google where I did. This was one of the first major tutorials I had written, and only the first time I shot, let alone saw the Milky Way in my lifetime – obviously I did something right. As far as the math is concerned, it was never my strong suit haha. I was more so trying to give people an easy equation that would yield a good starting shutter speed to work from. Depending on which direction you’re shooting, the Earth will appear to turn at different speeds relative to the stars’ motion. You can use a longer shutter speed facing North than you can facing South without inducing star trails so I don’t think there is a perfect equation – lot’s of trial and error is involved. Your guide sounds pretty cool. I’ll shoot you an e-mail shortly.

    -Nick

  38. August 22nd, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    G’day Nick,

    Thanks, mate, for a perfect article. Straight forward, thorough, fun to read, and with a wonderful new ap – Planets. Much obliged!

  39. August 27th, 2012 at 10:42 am

    You’re welcome! Glad I could help!

  40. September 14th, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I’m going camping at Frazier park, Ca this weekend and will be using your tips. I’ll be shooting with a Canon 60D and Canon 10-22mm. If they turn out half as sweet as yours did I’ll be pretty stoked.

  41. September 17th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    You’re welcome, Christopher. I hope it was a successful outing!

  42. September 20th, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Very good points. I learned something and excited to try it out when I am in the province.

  43. September 20th, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks Nick! It was successful. There were too many trees So I had to point the camera almost straight up, but I got some pretty good shots. Your tutorial made this easy. It was easy to understand, straight forward and to the point.
    Thanks again.
    Christopher

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4603472133720.179375.1499867158&type=1&l=b46d76523d

  44. September 27th, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Thanks, good luck!

  45. September 27th, 2012 at 8:55 am

    You’re welcome, Christopher. I really like how the trees frame the sky – very cool. Glad It helped!

  46. December 6th, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Nice article. Hopefully can shoot this milky way on this coming weekend. Thank you very much for the good info.

    Regards,
    Hishammarmin.com

  47. March 16th, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Excellent Tutorial my friend. HIGH QUALITY content. I plan to put this to use :D

  48. March 20th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you, Joseph! Good luck. I’m hoping to get back to some dark skies later this summer.