How To Photograph The Milky Way

Milky Way photography tips: Learn how to photograph the milky way.

How to Photograph MThe Milkyway - Photography Tips

Shoot under a dark sky

A dark sky without any light pollution is the most important requirement to see the Milky Way, let alone photograph it. For the darkest skies, you will also need to be shooting near or during a new moon.

Find a subject

Just because you are photographing at night doesn’t mean you should forget about the foreground, it is this that will make the photograph. For the best shots, frame the Milky Way lining up over a landscape, mountain, hut or even a person. Don’t forget the Milky Way will move across the sky during the night.

Locate the galactic center

The time of year will affect what parts of the Milky Way you can see. In New Zealand, the galactic core of the Milky Way is only visible from February to October, with June and July being the best when the core is at its brightest. Use a mobile app to help you plan your shot of the Milky Way.

Don’t blur the stars

To photograph the Milky Way, you’ll need to use a high ISO (ISO 3200) and a large aperture (f2.8) to capture as much light as possible. Select the correct shutter speed so not to blur the stars, due to the rotation of the earth. There are various rules for how long this time is and it depends on your camera and lens focal length, 25 seconds is a good starting point on a wide angle lens.

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve offers one of the best places in New Zealand to photograph the Milky Way. You can join us here and learn how to photograph the Milky Way as part of our Astro Masterclass Workshop and Landscape Masterclass workshops or our 17-day Ultimate New Zealand and South Island Highlights photography tours.

About the Author
Richard Young is a full-time landscape and wildlife photographer based in Wellington. He has been guiding groups of photographers in New Zealand since 2010 and founded New Zealand Photography Workshops in 2013.
  1. Jim embury Reply

    What app do you use to a milky way shot?

    • Richard Young Reply

      Hi Jim,

      The best one to use is Photo Pills, it is quite complex and takes a bit of leaning but there are some great resources on their website.


  2. Jim embury Reply

    Thanks Richard. Much appreciated.

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