This is the second part of a post on How to Photograph Stars in the Night Sky.
About the Shot
This last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Elkhorn Campground in Southern Utah for a family reunion. Elkhorn is in the middle of nowhere. No cell service. No Walmart. You’re lucky if he nearest town has a gas station. It’s really remote and a perfect location for photographing the night sky. This year I lucked out with a new moon that didn’t rise until the early morning hours. By 11:00 pm the sky was dark enough to make out the Milky Way with your naked eye.
I setup my camera on a tripod with my Tokina 17-35mm f/4 lens attached. This is a great wide lens for Canon or Nikon at a fraction of the cost of the name brand equivalent. You can tell it does not have quite the build quality of the name brand lenses but I find it just as sharp and really a fine piece of glass for the price.
I set the ISO to 2500, aperture wide open at f/4, and shutter speed to 30 seconds. It’s really quite amazing seeing the Milky Way for the first time as your camera can capture it during a long exposure. If you haven’t tried it yet, I really encourage you to get out and photograph the Milky Way.
Star or Milky Way shots tend to look great on the LCD on the back of the camera but when you get them on the computer you’ll notice that they sometimes lack the punch you’d like them to have. I’ve recorded a short video tutorial that demonstrates how I quickly post process Milky Way photographs to increase their contrast, brightness, and sharpness using the camera Raw settings as well as the dodge tool. Here’s the video: