Tag Archives: how to photograph the Milky Way


Paul Brewer photographed this majestic sight - the Milky Way. See the setting moon on the right.

We are lucky to have a lack of light pollution on the Mendonoma coast. May it ever be so!

I asked Paul how he photographed this. He wrote, "Simple answer, long exposure (20-30 seconds) at high ISO and maximum aperature available on a wide angle lens, with tripod."

For those interested in a more detail explanation, Paul wrote, "Two parts to the answer. To shoot the milky-way like this you need to gather light for an extended time. The time depends on the aperature of the lens. Fast lenses with F 2.8 or faster is preferred. Mine is only
f/4 and would benefit with a faster lens. The faster the lens the
shorter the exposure or lower the ISO to obtain good results. Low ISO
and short exposure time both reduce the noise in the photo. The wider
the lens the longer you can expose without the stars becoming streaks
instead of points. Rule of thumb is divide 500 by the focal length of
the lens. In my case 500 divided by 16mm allows a 30 second exposure
which is what I used. My settings were ISO 4000 F/4 for 30 seconds.
You also need to be locked down on a tripod for those long
exposures, preferably shooting with mirror up on a DSLR to reduce
vibration. It is also helpful to shoot with long exposure noise
reduction turned on."

Thanks to Paul for allowing me to share his photo with  you here, and for the photography lesson. To see more of Paul's nature photography, here is his website: http://www.capturingnatureswonders.com/


Paul Brewer has been photographing the night sky. Just look at this beautiful photo of the Milky Way and the starry skies, with a fog bank hovering over the Pacific Ocean.

Milky Way by Paul Brewer

And if that wasn't beautiful enough, a few nights ago Paul photographed the Milky Way with the setting moon.

Milky Way and the setting sun by Paul Brewer

I asked him how he was able to get photos like these. This is what he wrote, "Basically, and most important you need to be looking for
opportunities and have a camera ready. It is really nice to have all
these opportunities where you live so you can run out the door and take
a shot.

"When stars are involved, you have to shoot with a big aperture,
little number, like f/2.8. The shots also are long exposures but not to
long or the stars become streaks instead of points. The rule of thumb is
no longer than 500 divided by the focal length of the lens. Example 500
divide by 20mm lens equals 25 second exposure maximum. Focusing at
infinity is also difficult at night so I use live view plus trial and
error to get it sharp. You have to then adjust your ISO up high enough
to expose the stars/milky-way.

"In other words you really need to know
your equipment which takes practice. It is essential to shoot off a
solid tripod using a remote shutter release so camera shake is minimized.
"Milky-way shots are best achieved in summer months within a couple
of days either side of a new moon. Having a friend like [photographer] Craig Tooley also helps as yesterday he advised that I turn on the Long exposure noise reduction feature in my camera and shoot with the mirror up. It really made a difference."

Thanks to Paul for allowing me to share these beautiful photos. To see much more of Paul's nature photography, here is the link to his website:  http://www.capturingnatureswonders.com/