Stars, Milky Way, String Lake, Grand Teton NP

Many students often ask if there are simple ways to shoot a beautiful galaxy, here are some steps.

The prerequisite for a beautiful galaxy is that it is best to shoot when there is no moon in the sky, 2 hours after sunset and 2 hours before sunrise. Here are some steps.



  1. Mount the camera on a tripod.
  2. You can use a shutter release, if not, use the camera’s self-timer (turn it down to 2 seconds).
  3. Set the focus to “Manual Focus” turn off autofocus, the camera will not be able to focus in the dark environment.
  4. Set the focusing distance to “infinity”, you can focus on the infinity scene in advance during the day, and then mark the focus point on the lens.
  5. Set the camera to M-mode
  6. Set ISO to the highest value, but not exceed ISO6400
  7. If you have a large aperture fixed focus wide-angle lens it can be used, otherwise, pull the lens to the widest setting.
  8. Set the shutter to 30 seconds.
  9. Set the aperture to the maximum aperture, such as f/3.5. Of course, if f/2.8 is better, f/4 is acceptable. Here are some suggested combinations:
    f/2.8-30″-ISO 6400
    f/2.0-30″-ISO 3200
    f/1.4-30″-ISO 1600
    f/3.5-30″-ISO 6400 (-0.5 EV) *
    f/4.0-30″-ISO 6400 (-1.0 EV) *
    f/3.5-30″-ISO 3200 (-1.5 EV) *
    f/3.5-30″-ISO 1600 (-2.5 EV) *
    * = underexposed, but can be remedied in post-production
  10. Set the white balance to “Auto” (AWB) or “Daylight”, we can use post-production software such as Photoshop and Lightroom to make the sky more colorful.
  11. To compose the galaxy or starry sky, it is recommended to add an interesting foreground as a silhouette effect. Illuminating the foreground while shooting can also make photos richer!
  12. It is very difficult to compose a picture in the dark, try to push the ISO to the highest, then use a shorter shutter for composition. When real shooting, remember to adjust the ISO back to no more than ISO6400.
  13. Fine-tune your exposure after taking a picture. The more light damage (moon or city lights) the lower the ISO.
  14. Zoom in on the photo. If stars turn into star tracks, you should use a wider lens or reduce the shutter to 15 seconds, but if the shutter is slow, you need to use a larger aperture or higher ISO to compensate.

Pick up the camera tonight and take a beautiful Galaxy.

(via Royce Bair)


Author: Alex Tam