One type of nature photography is astrophotography. Astrophotography is the type of photography that capture any kind of astronomical object such as the moon, sun, or stars. I will show you how to take picture of our Milky Way like what I did below.

Milky Way at Samosir Island

Milky Way at Samosir Island. f/5.6, 12mm, 115 seconds, ISO-800

To get this kind of photo of Milky Way here are some of the basic thing to be remembered to get awesome astronomy photo:

  1. Clear night sky.
  2. Low light pollution (Avoid any city with lots of city lights, just go to suburb area)
  3. Moon-less night (This is required when taking photo of star)
  4. Sturdy and solid tripod
  5. Shutter release cable/wireless to avoid any vibration when pressing the shutter button. This is optional if you didn’t use B (Bulb) mode.
  6. Ultra-wide angle lens for sky full of star photo or star trail. (At least 16mm)
  7. Stopwatch for keeping track of the time to keep the shutter open.
  8. App to find the position of the Milky Way (I use Star Walk 2)

After we know the basic then we move to the more technical part.

  • Setup the camera on the sturdy tripod and point it to the north or south part of the sky. (The thickest part of Milky Way runs from North to South).
  • Set the lens to the widest angle as possible. I set it to 12mm since my lens is Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4.0.
  • Since the sky will be dark, just set the lens to manual focus and set the focus ring point to infinity (∞).
  • Now, the crucial part, keep in mind that the earth is moving or rotate so the star will appear moving when we expose our photo too long, but since we use wide angle lens, so the movement of the earth is not so visible, so try to expose or set the shutter speed not too long, in this case I use Bulb (B) setting and keep the shutter open for 115 seconds (Use stopwatch to keep track on the time, trial and error on the time). This can only be achieve by using shutter release cable with locking system to avoid any unnecessary movement when we directly pressing the camera shutter button.
  • The next setting is the Aperture. Since we need to avoid star trail we need to make sure the Aperture to be as large as possible so that more lights can reach the camera and faster. If you have a very sharp wide angle lens, you can set the aperture to f/2.8, I used f/5.6 since for this particular Pentax DA 12-24mm lens, I knew from experience that the sharpest point for this lens when the focal length set to 12mm will be f/5.6 that’s the reason why I pick this aperture point.
  • The last setting to keep in mind is the ISO setting, make sure to set the ISO setting to higher ISO but keep in mind that the higher the ISO the more noise it will show up in our photo. The higher ISO is to help lower the shutter speed to avoid star trail and make sure we get every sky object ASAP and as clear as possible without taking too much time. I use ISO-800 since Pentax K-7 ISO 800 considered to be not too noisy, some newer camera can go all the way to ISO 3200 and still not so much noise, so familiarize yourself with your camera that you use.

So these are the step-by-step that I did to get this amazing photograph of Milky Way.

More photos of Milky Way over Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park:

If you have camera, live around Medan, love photography and would love to know more about photography and know the correct way to take good photo. Suwandi Chandra Photography offers School of Photography to teach all the basic about photography and help you to become good photographer and take photo using the correct technique. The course basically consist of 10 meeting and each meeting ± 2 hours long. For more information please check it out Here.

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