A Magical Experience: Tips for Capturing Milkyway Photography

Are you ready for a journey to the stars? Hold on tight, because I’m about to take you on a ride to the Milky Way!

Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in an unforgettable workshop on Milky Way photography by Indian Photo Expeditions. And let me tell you, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before! From the stunning sunset hues to the glittering stars of the Milky Way, I was mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the galaxy.

In this blog post, I’ll share some of the amazing tips and tricks I learned during the workshop that will help you capture stunning Milky Way photographs of your own.

The journey to Naneghat from Mumbai took almost seven hours with breaks. However, I did not let these seven hours go in vain either and tried to interact with our mentor, Ashish Kamble most of the time, sharing ideas and learning from each other. By the time we reached Naneghat, it was an onset of a pleasant evening.

We spent the rest of the evening shooting sunset hues and waiting for mother nature to sprinkle stars on the dark blue canvas of the sky. What followed later in the night, was an unprecedented experience, I will never be able to describe in words, but only make an attempt to depict through my photographs of the incredible Milkyway we all witnessed that night. Needless to say, enthralled by the ethereal beauty of our galaxy, we did not sleep the whole night.

These images are simply a result of the relentless dedication and in-depth guidance of our mentor, Ashish Kamble, who left no stone unturned to ensure that we nail this game of capturing Milkyway in our first attempt itself. Just like us, he did not sleep the whole night and I could see him teaching the post-processing part in batches the very next morning. This is humanely impossible unless a person has an undying passion to teach and mentor. I immediately thanked myself for choosing his workshop to learn Milkyway photography.

Now that you have already got a glimpse of the photographs I could capture of the Milyway, let me share a few things that I learnt during this workshop, which you can use for your next Milkyway photography tour.

What Equipments to Use?
  • Full-frame camera, for high ISO performance;
  • Ultra-wide-angle lens (preferably of focal length 14mm/16mm and aperture f/2.8 or below);
  • A sturdy tripod (without centre post, for greater stability);


  • A remote shutter release;
  • L-bracket/plates for vertical shots;
  • Headlamp with the dim red setting.
Which Apps to Use?
  • Stellarium (can be used to find the location, date, time of night and the direction of Milkyway) OR Starry Night (can be also used to search for constellations like Sagittarius which can serve as an indicative guide to the centre of the galaxy);
  • Darksitefinder.com (to find dark sky without light pollution);
  • Topographic map apps like Photopills, Sun Surveyor (most advanced) or Photographer’s Ephemeris;
  • Luminar AI (for processing Milkyway photos).
What Camera Settings to Apply?

A good starting point exposure could be:

  • Aperture: f/2.8 (or below, if the lens can offer);
  • ISO: 3200 (or higher, but not more than 6400, to avoid excessive grains);
  • Shutter Speed: 20 seconds (or higher, but not more than 30 seconds, to avoid star trail);
  • White Balance: Daylight (to avoid AWB setting interfering with atmospheric colours) (or between 4000-5000 Kelvin)
  • Metering Mode: All areas
  • Use the histogram to judge the exposure;
  • Use the in-built red light setting (if available in your camera) to navigate through camera settings and menu;
  • Turn off long-exposure noise reduction (LENR);
  • Use manual focus mode and set the focus to infinity.
  • Avoid using the normal white-light LCD screen to judge the exposure or navigate through camera settings and menu;
  • Don’t keep the shutter speed more than 30 seconds (to avoid star trail);
  • Don’t use a flimsy tripod.
Essential Skills
  • Achieving infinity focus in the night using manual focus;
  • Pre-shoot location scouting;
  • Composition;
  • Post-processing on Adobe Lightroom.

Quick Tips

  • Look for interesting foreground elements like a tree, hill, or rock formation which can add depth and interest to your image.
  • Shoot during a new moon as the moon’s brightness may wash out the stars.
  • If your lens doesn’t have an infinity mark, focus on a distant light source such as a streetlight or a bright star.
  • Take multiple shots, adjust your settings, and experiment with different compositions until you get the shot you want.

Photographers you can follow

  • Ben Canales, featured in National Geographic and other publications
  • Babak Tafreshi, featured in National Geographic, BBC, and other publications
  • Brad Goldpaint, featured in National Geographic, Time, and other publications. YouTube channel here
  • Paul Zizka, featured in National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, and other publications
  • Royce Bair, author of the book “Milky Way Nightscapes” and featured in National Geographic and other publications

I am sure, you still want to know more about Milkyway photography and how it is done on the field. Here are my two strong recommendations:

Join a Milkyway photography tour by Indian Photo Expeditions
Read ‘Dusk to Dawn’ by Glenn Randall
Other books you may consider



Published by Vivek Kumar Verma

Investment Banking Lawyer | Photographer & Blogger | Connoisseur of Food | Poet

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