How to Photograph the Milky Way

The Mermaid, Me and Him

What You Will Need

DSLR Camera

A good camera is essential when trying to capture the majesty of the Milky Way. There are many types of cameras that will be capable of taking fantastic images of the night sky. It doesn’t have to be your traditional DLSR camera.


When choosing a lens, I would recommend a very wide-angle lens; something that will allow you to capture a huge portion of the sky. The main reason is that the Milky Way is massive! It will stretch across the entire sky and to get it in your composition can be challenging.

A Good Tripod

When taking long exposures of the night sky — 15–40 seconds — you are going to need a very sturdy platform to put your camera on. When I started taking night photos I used a cheap $50 tripod and my images were not as sharp as they could have been. This was mostly due to gusts of wind that shook my rig ever so slightly.

Remote Shutter

Using a remote to control your camera’s shutter is essential for shooting the Milky Way. You can get away with using your 2-second delay timer but it will limit you. When shooting the Milky Way you will want to use the ‘Bulb’ mode on your camera instead of the programmed shutter speeds. This will give you full control over how the long camera’s shutter stays open.

Where To take photos of the Milky Way

You will be able to capture parts of the Milky Way near cities but to get truly amazing images you’re going to need to find a really dark location. Fortunately, there are great tools to help you do just that.

When To take photos of the Milky Way

The time of year will affect what parts of the Milky Way you see. What part of the world you live in will also determine what you see as well. I use an augmented reality iPhone app called Sky View to help me plan my shoot. It allows me to search for the Milky Way and more importantly change the time and date so I can see what position the Milky Way will be in at that given moment. Planning to shoot the Milky Way is important because your night will end short, if what you want to capture isn’t visible when you go out.


Clear Dark Skies and colder nights are the best weather to shoot the milky way.

Shutter, Aperture, ISO, Focusing and Composition, I leave it to you to choose. 

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In