How to Take Amazing Night, Star and Milky Way Photos

Night Photography was always a passion for me.
There is something about finding a clear night, looking up at the stars and just wondering! Being able to capture that is something special! Unlike any other photo!
When I first started, I really wanted to take night Photography. But had no real idea. My first pictures came out completely black, then too noisy, then out of focus and so on. But I was hooked.
I have practiced and studied, and practiced some more and now, I'm confident enough to go out and take incredible photos of the stars and Milky Way. Ones that I can be proud of and I want to teach you so you can take those and be proud of them!
One thing that I have learned is how to take multiple shots, combine them to create a literal “out of this world photo”  
First lets go over what I used to take these photos:
(each is a link to Amazon if you are interested in getting them)
Now let's go over the settings. These were the settings for EACH photo. No changes other than position of the camera on the tripod
16 mm 
ISO: 2500
Shutter: 15 seconds
F/Stop: 2.8
2 second timer
The next step was to take the photo see what I was looking at. Planning the shoot. This doesn't have to take long. I knew where the milky way was, just wanted to see its angle. 
RAW FILE (no edits have been made to this image)
As you can see by this shot, which is the RAW file, no edits have been done to this photo. Even at 16 mm I wouldn’t be able to get the whole Milky Way curve in one photo.
This told me I would need to do multiple photos and combine them in post. 
I set the tripod up and adjusted the camera position so all I had to change was the HORIZONTAL motion of the camera. Meaning I took a picture, rotated the tripod head so the camera stayed in the same position and took another photo. This allowed the pictures to match. 
However, this is not necessary. The main thing to do is to make sure your photos overlap at least 30%.
Take photo 1, rotate camera so that the NEW image will contain at least 30% that was in the last image and take another one. In order to have a clean and easy merge, there must be enough data for Lightroom to match.
I took a total of 7 shots for this image. This might have been a little overkill, but better to be safe then sorry. its also important to know that your first and last show should have extra room on the far side of the shot.
Your far right shot should have extra room on the right and the far left shot should have extra room on the left. This is for cropping and run off when you merge them.
Once you have taken your photos and brought them into Lightroom, the first thing I usually do is do the Lens Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberration.
Then I select the photos, starting with the far left, press shift and select the last one in the sequence. Make sure you're only selecting the ones you want to merge and select the first image first, and last image last - in order. Which they should be in order if you took them that way. 
Right Click and Select:
Photo Merge and Panorama
This might take a minute but once done processing it will show you a preview like this: 
Select Fill Edges:
And it should do a decent job of filing out the sides. If it says "not enough data to merge" or gives you a similar error, most likely the image is either too dark or not enough details in each image to merge them together. This is why its important to overlap your multiple images. 
If the "fill edges" doesn't do a good job, you don't have to use this feature, but you will have to handle in photoshop or crop the image to work. 
Once merged and you're happy, press "Merge" at the bottom
Before - Merged Images (7) unedited (RAW)
Then edit the photo in Lightroom or Photoshop, however you would like to do it and you have now created a beautiful image!
AFTER - Merged Images (7) edited 
For more information on how to take photos at night, check out my video on youtube: Milky Way and Star Photography Basics
Thanks for reading! I really hope this helps you take your best photo yet!
At the bottom is a place for you to comment and let me know what you thought :)
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-Will Simpson
Exploring Photography


  • Al Yariv

    That’s super awesome brother. Loved the details. Definitely going to try it one of these days 🙏🏼🙏🏼 Thank youuuuu

  • Jill Burgdorf

    Just Amazing. Truly love your photos and your tips on Tik Tok.
    Thank You for sharing

  • Macon

    This is a great blog entry. I’m surprised you can just pan with the tripod in place and don’t have to move the camera laterally. That was surprising!

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