Capturing the Milky Way is a challenging undertaking that needs to be well planned. There are numerous factors that one has to time just right:
- Weather conditions – clear skies and low humidity. Higher humidity will add unwanted haze.
- Time of the year – April through September are the best months. It is impossible to see the Milky Way in November, December and January in Northern Hemisphere; Milky Way is below the horizon and is not visible in the night sky.
- Moon – preferably on the night of a new moon or close by. As with light pollution, one would want to avoid the brightness of the moon.
- Light pollution – need to find a dark sky, such as Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. Use Dark Sky Finder as a guide for finding a suitable location near you.
- Camera Equipment – equipment most suitalbe for capturing the night sky:
- Full Frame or 4/3 Crop dSLR. Keep ISO at 3,200 or less.
- Wide Angle Lense – 24mm or wider. Shots below are at 20mm and 14mm. f/2.8 aperture or faster.
- Stable tripod – don’t even attempt to capture the Milkyway without a tripod.
- Manual Focus – manually focus on the stars to get the best sharpness. Auto-focus has never worked for me.
The photos below were taken in almost perfect conditions at Sand Beach (around 10pm) in Acadia National Park, ME. The final photographs are a result of 100 picture stack processed through Sequator and Lightroom.
Before anyone jumps to any conclusions if these pictures are real or fake, two of the original pictures out of the camera (unprocessed) are posted as well.
For more, see the Photography Album – Nature.