Searching For and Photographing The Milky Way

Night photography is something that I only just recently became interested in. And it took a little nudge by Ahnate, who suggested that we spend a Friday night on the east side of the island, in the cold darkness, and try to take pictures of the Milky Way. I didn’t think that it was possible to take photos of the Milky Way without the use of expensive photography equipment and super fancy lenses. I was wrong. And Friday was awesome.

How do you Photograph the Milky Way?

I’m not 100% sure. The best advice that I can give you is to experiment. This first shoot really was my first night photography session experimenting with the Milky Way. I’m no pro photographer, but here are a few of my notes.

  1. Choose a dark location on a cloud free night. There are a few locations on the island that will give you a pitch dak experience. On this trip, we chose Lanai Lookout. There were still some obvious light sources and more clouds than expected, but for the most part, it worked.
  2. Shutter Speed. I chose to experiment the entire night only using a 30 second shutter speed. If you keep the shutter open for too long, though, the stars in yours photos might begin to look oblong. Also, because you’ll be using such a long exposure, it’s important that you have a tripod. You’ll also want to use a self-timer or remote shutter button. This is to prevent the shake from pressing down on the shutter button from affecting your photos. Next time, I’ll play around with much longer shutter speeds.
  3. Aperture. Ahnate suggested here that I drop my aperture down to the lowest possible f-stop. I was using my¬†Canon EF-S 10-22mm, so the lowest f stop that I could drop down to was f/3.5. The idea here is that you want maximum depth of field. By setting your focus to infinity, you’ll then be able to capture those distant stars.
  4. ISO. This setting can be played around with a lot. I experimented with ISO’s ranging from 12oo to 2000. Ahnate, I believe, bumped his ISO up to 3200. Remember, though, the higher the ISO setting, the more noise that will be present in the image.
  5. Use Star Chart for the iPhone. With the app, you simply point your iPhone to the sky and it will show you the location of the Milky Way.
  6. Equipment. For this session, I used my Canon EOS 7D.

Right now, I don’t have much more to add. I’m more than certain that we’ll be doing this again. And I’m more than certain that I’ll have more notes to add next time. Until then, enjoy the photos!

Looking up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ghastly Joel. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ghastly Joel. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Heads down. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Heads down. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Starry, Starry Night. Photo by Ahnate Lim.

Starry, Starry Night. Photo by Ahnate Lim.

Stargazer. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Stargazer. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A glimpse of the Milky Way. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A glimpse of the Milky Way. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Shooting Session. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Shooting Session. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Night Sky. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Night Sky. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Milky Way in the distance. Photo by Ahnate Lim.

Milky Way in the distance. Photo by Ahnate Lim.

Stars and Beers. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Stars and Beers. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

In search of ET. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

In search of ET. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Sonic boom. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Sonic boom. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ahnate called this the "Album Cover" photo. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ahnate called this the “Album Cover” photo. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

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