How to Easily Take Great Milky Way Photos

Many of the star gazers dream to take a perfect photo of the other side of our own galaxy Milky Way with their own device. And this is also true that everyone can not afford a telescope. Here we will show you how you can take some amazing photos of Milky Way without any telescope. All you need is any digital camera and a tripod.

 Fig 1: Milky Way (Photo taken by  only a digital camera)

The amazing photo above shows you the other side of Milky Way. This was not taken by a photographer or a telescope owner. And the truth is, it is not hard to take some photos like that. You do not need much experience with cameras to do that. You just need to focus your mind to have a great photo.

Here we are enlisting some basic tricks to take great night sky pictures.

Things you need to take a photo of Milky Way

  1. A sturdy tripod: You must have a robust and strong tripod. But obviously it does not need to be expensive or fancy. You will find a plenty of tripod at different price range in amazon. Take one of them into your cart according to your budget. The price varies with the quality and strength of the tripod. Read the features before you choose one.

Fig 2: Tripod in amazon.

  1. Darker sky: You have to find the darkest sky within your area. This is important because the darker the sky will be the clearer the image of Milky Way will be. The other side of the Milky way is distant and sensitive. Light pollution will damage your photo by making it hazy. It is the best if you get away from the city to avoid light pollution. Campgrounds, parks and the unpopulated area will be the best options for this. If you can not find any suitable place in your locality, you can find out local astronomy clubs from facebook or google. If you contact them, they will help you by giving suggestion on where you can go. Moreover, most of the clubs offer membership with various facilities. You can use their different sites when you need too. Find out a place where you can see Milky Way with bare eyes. If you can see the Milky Way with your naked eye, you be sure that the photo will come better than what you see.

How will your set your camera

At first, find our the lens that has the lowest power. Even if the lens is 18-55 mm, it will work well. Then set the manual option in your camera. Set the manual option for the focus of the lens and make the stabilizer off (If it is available in your camera). After that, set the highest ISO. For f ratio of the aperture, select the lowest option as possible. Here, keep in mind that you have to set the minimal zoom, otherwise it will affect the value of your f ratio. Exposure time will be 15 seconds.

The white balance have no effect on the color of the Milky Way in the photo. You can set to White fluorescent or Tungsten. You also can change this and take photos with different options to experiment which one gives you the best image. Select the largest image size so that you get the best resolution. The bigger picture will take more megabytes which indicates the better image quality. You also can set your camera to RAW. Professional photographer use this as a post processing of taking photos.

Fig 3: Camera Setting

Fig 4: Lens setting 

Fig 5: Camera Focus Set to Manual “M”.


Here you have to find the focus manually. If you set your lens of the camera to infinity focus, it can not work properly. Besides you will find there is a fudge factor in that type of setting. You have to observe that whether it is set to focus for stars or not. 

To do this, you have to adjust your camera on your tripod and point it towards the brightest star in the sky. Then zoom in gradually on the star with the zoom of the lens. Keep the star at the middle or center and zoom in. after that, you have to turn the focus ring on the camera till the stars look as sharp as possible. Then you wind the focus a little bit back and forth to find the best focus. And you are done.

When the focusing is done, you can leave the ring alone. But keep in mind that you have to reset the zoom all the way back again. You can use a gaffer tape to hold the focus ring right there. This is helpful as it prevents the accidental move of the focus ring during a photo session. Besides, gaffer tape does not leave any sticky thing when it is removed.

What to do when everything is set

You are ready. Now you can take some photos at 15 second exposure. Have a look at the pictures. Do the same at 20 and 30 seconds exposure. Then find out the option which gave you the sharpest and best photo.

If you want you also can reset the white balance. If you set Tungsten then switch it to White Fluorescent. Or do vice versa. Then observe the photos and try to notice the difference in the colors. This is how you can fix the white balance.

Now you notice if your image look so grainy or it has a lot of noise. You can fix this by setting the ISO. If you find your photos grainy, minimize the ISO speed a little bit and snap more pictures again. Find out which value give you the best picture. Another easy way to take amazing Milky Way pictures is named ‘Light Painting’. 

Fig 6: Milky Way