Photographing the Milky Way

The milky way is one of things you only ever see in movies or magazines, very rarely do you get to see it with the naked eye, or never see it at all if you live in cities or where there is a lot of light.

To really get the best results of seeing the milky way you need to out of the way of those big cities, right out into the countryside miles from any civilisation, im lucky enough to live in the Uk best dark night spot right here in Northumberland, which is about an hours drive for me, so not to far.

Before I start showing you my images of this amazing sight in our sky I thought I would run down a few apps I use for planning

My Moon Phase

Moon phase does what is says, it tells your the dates of the moon cycle so you exactly when the new moon will be here so can plan ahead of time. it also gives you moon rise and set times as well as other information.

IOS   

Andriod

Clear outside

I use this app mostly for sunrise shots but it can still tell you the amount of cloud around a specific area and if the cloud is low, medium or high altitude, of course we ideally want zero clouds to shoot any stars.

IOS

Andriod

TPE

Please tell me you know this one, if you have been shooting images for a while then you should be using this app. The photographers ephemeris is a paid for app but it very powerful in the photography world. there is so much detail within this app there is too much to go into but it should be on your phone.

IOS

Andriod

Photopills

Another very powerful app, and this one is quite the opposite to TPE, where TPE is more for day shot planning and the position of the sun and moon rise and set ties, Photopills is for night shots with an amazing night AR showing you exactly where the milky way will be. I must admit this app is so powerful I havent even learnt it all, its capabilities are endless.

IOS

Android

So now you have your apps ready and you have planned where to shoot what about how to shoot, what equipment do you need?

I use quite simple gear and nothing really cost a lot of money, not in the photography world anyway.

When I shoot night photography I always use the same equipment:

Sony A6000

Samyang 12mm

Velbon 655 tripod.

That is it, thats all I use to shoot. The main thing you should spend your money on is glass, my Samyang cost me £190 when I bought it and I personally think its an amazing lens. its perfect for landscape photography and most importantly – night photography. WHY?

The Samyang 12mm is a F2, meaning it can allow a lot of light into the camera capturing lot of detail in the night sky. You can still get some good shots with a kit lens but nothing as good as you can with a lens that shoot wide open at F2 or lower.

My first image was shot in Kielder forest located in Northumberland’s national dark sky spot. nestled in the trees the Milky way was rising perfectly above. I couldn’t see this with my eye so this is where Photopills would come in.

Setting my tripod head pointing upwards I was able to capture the tops of the trees with the sky above and I think it make for a good foreground interest.

Sony A6000 – Samyang 12mm – @12mm – 13 secs – iso2500 – F2                                This photo has been edited using Lightroom and Photoshop CC

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The next shot was actually taken on the same night when i was heading home. it was around an hour after the first and moon had started rising as you can see in the bottom left of the photo.

The milky is very hard to see when the moon is out thats why using apps like My Moon Phase. but I think I was rather lucky as it was just rising and i was in a very dark location – but if your planning to go out try and do it when we have a new moon and a clear night. Which is hard to get both when your living in the UK.

Oh yes the photo, as I was driving home over the hills I spotted this tree standing tall against the starry sky, would have been rude not to photograph it. and in fact this image has appeared in another blog post of mine I have just revisited the image for another edit on it.

 

Sony A6000 – Samyang 12mm – @12mm – 13 secs – iso3200 – F2

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There you have it, the amazing milky way right here in the uk. Its all about planning the night and plan ahead, there are lots of amazing location in the Uk where it is dark enough to shoot this amazing scene.

DARK SKY LOCATIONS

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Sark Dark Sky Island

Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve

Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve

Northumberland Dark Sky Park

Coll Dark Sky Island

Elan Valley Dark Sky Park

Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve

As you can see below the UK light pollution spots and the dark night spots. Do you live near any? I hope I have inspired you to go out and shoot some amazing night photography.

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Image has been taken and linked to www.nightblight.cpre.org.uk

 

Disclosure:This post may contain affiliate links 

Im Lew – A blogger and father of two boys, three if you include the dog, living in Sunderland. Not sure I have the hang of this blog niche thing but hey ho, I’m doing it anyway – expect all sorts of randomness.

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31 Comments

  1. 17th October 2018 / 9:59 pm

    Those pics are great, I really have to get my head into photography. I’m just using my google pixel phone and wonder why the quality isn’t great. Need to invest in a new dSLR. #adventurecalling

    • 19th October 2018 / 9:40 am

      I imagine you can still get some amazing images with that phone. But a good camera is a must still. I use mirrorless now

      • 20th October 2018 / 8:38 pm

        I’d be interested to know what editing software you use? I’m thinking of trying Gimp as it’s free. Do you know anything about it?

        • 21st October 2018 / 9:44 am

          I’ve used it quite a while ago. I think it was pretty decent for it being free. Is there anything you want to learn as I may be able to do a tutorial for you

          The software I use is lightroom and photoshop then a free add on called nix collection

  2. 19th October 2018 / 8:09 am

    Only this week I have been starting to look into milky way and night sky photography. Living on the edge of the North York Moors means I have plenty of doorstep access to dark skies myself. I do plan on getting out and shooting soon, but I will have to make do with my 50mm f/1.8 for now as my budget can’t stretch to a new lense right now. Those shots are fantastic though, well done and thanks for the tips and app recommendations.
    #ThatLinkyFriday

    • 19th October 2018 / 9:39 am

      No problem Dave and thank you. It baffles me still as there is so much to learn with. So many stars to spot and identify. Well if you ever want to meet up somewhere I don’t mind the travel to North Yorkshire. You might show me new location too. I’m off there this weekend actually

  3. 19th October 2018 / 11:12 am

    Absolutely stunning pictures. Oh how I wish I’d paid better attention in my photography lessons! I’ve probably forgotten all sorts and cheat now with my phone or a point and shoot. There are some beautiful dark sky spots in the Yorkshire Dales not far from me. I keep meaning to take the kids to a dark skies event put on by the dales National park, thanks for the reminder! #adventurecalling

    • 19th October 2018 / 11:48 am

      I love it down there. We often take the kids out late night star watching. My eldest loves it.

  4. 20th October 2018 / 9:11 am

    Gosh what stunning pictures we have a telescope but often forget to use it on a clear night. This has prompted me to get it out of the garage #thatfridaylinky

    • 21st October 2018 / 9:45 am

      Glad to hear that I have jogged that memory. New moon is about 19th November I think

  5. 20th October 2018 / 7:48 pm

    Absolutely awesome photos mate. You have a real talent there Lewis Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

  6. 21st October 2018 / 11:17 am

    Some amazing shots there Lewis.

    It looks like something out of Men in Black.

    • 21st October 2018 / 12:08 pm

      I’ll make sure try and capture an alien next time haha.

  7. 21st October 2018 / 11:27 am

    These photos are amazing 😁 David would love to try and take this kind of photo #DDFB

    • 21st October 2018 / 12:09 pm

      Thanks Donetta. Well now he can there is some tips in the post. And if wants help. I’m up for a night of shooting in the North Yorkshire moors somewhere

  8. 21st October 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Gorgeous that’s all I can say. Wow! I feel like I was standing on a hill with eternity above me.

  9. 21st October 2018 / 1:54 pm

    Beautiful shots. Love the app tips too, Photopill sounds awesome! Thank you! :) #sundayphoto

  10. 21st October 2018 / 3:36 pm

    Great post and I’ll take a look at some of those apps.

    Thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

  11. 21st October 2018 / 9:27 pm

    Oh these photos are amazing. We live in a perfect dark sky locationa nd I would love to be able to capture what I can see with my eye like this. #MySundayPhoto

  12. 21st October 2018 / 9:45 pm

    Amazing photos! I live in Snowdonia so plenty of dark spots around here. NEver been out to photograph anything though. But I think I really ought to!

  13. Tracey Abrahams
    22nd October 2018 / 9:42 am

    Wow, those pictures are just stunning. It is one of my bucket list things to one day go somewhere where I can see the stars like that.

  14. 22nd October 2018 / 12:19 pm

    Pictures are amazing, wish half of mine came out that well!! There’s too much light around where we leave so almost impossible to see any stars! #DDFB

  15. 22nd October 2018 / 2:16 pm

    Fantastic photos. Delighted to have seen them. Thanks for sharing them here. #MixItUp

  16. 22nd October 2018 / 2:35 pm

    Wow. It does not even look real! #mixitup

  17. 29th October 2018 / 10:38 pm

    fab pics, love it. that’s one of the things I always wanted to do when out kayak camping but never had my tripod with me, so that’s now on the list! #adeventurecalling

  18. 30th October 2018 / 9:14 pm

    Awesome shots. We’ve just been up in Northumberland and I’m sorry we missed Kielder Water. The best stars I’ve ever seen were actually in Cambodia. I couldn’t believe my eyes and what I was looking at. Magical. #adventurecalling

  19. 31st October 2018 / 9:37 am

    Great photos mate. A hiking and wild camping buddy of mine is awesome at this sort of stuff but I’m pretty clueless to be honest. I’m usually enjoying a sneaky neep while he’s in camera mode haha. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling. We’ll back open for new posts tomorrow morning.

  20. 13th November 2018 / 12:40 pm

    Amazing photos and great advice. I will be looking at some of those apps you recommend, I would love to improve my photography. Thanks so much for sharing with us #AdventureCalling

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