Watching the night sky in Bishop, California

Watching the night sky in Bishop, California

Have you ever wondered how to shoot the milky way? I’m by no means an expert in Astrophotography but I’ll share with how I got the shot above and the one below.

First and foremost, you would need a high ISO camera. Shooting the dark skies without the stars producing trails require exposures at under 30 seconds. After that, you might as well shoot for star trails.

Second, you need a very fast lens. Rokinon/Samyang makes super cheap primes that actually perform better for shooting the Milky Way than their more expensive counterpart. Check out the 14mm f/2.8 and the 24mm f/1.4

Third, you need a tripod or something to hold steady your camera for the long exposure.

Fourth, you need to find a spot with very low light pollution (away from the cities). The higher in elevation the better.

Fifth, you need to know when you are able to see the Milky Way. For this, you need tools like this: and this:

Now you got the basics, let’s shoot some galaxy!

For the shot above, I set the ISO at 3200 on my Sony A7ii and exposure at 15 seconds. I was using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 at wide open and used my headlamp to manually focus on the tree as well as illuminate it during exposure. The tree, by the way, is probably thousands of years old. This is area is in the White Mountains where Ancient Bristlecone forest where you can find the Oldest Tree in the world (older than the Romans!)

For this next shot, it’s again around 15 seconds. It isn’t multiple shots and combined to one or layered in photoshop. It’s just one shot with high ISO. I instructed my friend to strike a pose every few seconds and I would use the flashlight on him on every pose during exposure. The resulting image is this multiple shots of him on the frame.

I’ve just recently developed an interest in Astrophotography and learning the ropes as I go. Part of the joy is planning the shot and actually seeing the Milky Way with the naked eye!


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