Milky Way Photography Tutorial – The COMPLETE Guide for Beginners



Milky Way photography is the most requested topic that I’ve ever gotten on this channel. I hope you can tell, this is also the most time I’ve put into making a video!

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll know exactly how to photograph the Milky Way with any equipment. It covers everything from camera settings to advanced astrophotography techniques like multi-image blending. I made this course to be completely beginner friendly, but it also has a lot of tips for pro photographers along the way.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN VIDEO:

• Video on shutter speed, aperture, and ISO: https://youtu.be/D-GfbRkFtuw
• Photopills (astrophotography app): https://www.photopills.com
• Dark Site Finder (light pollution map): https://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html
• Starry Landscape Stacker (image averaging for Mac): https://sites.google.com/site/starrylandscapestacker/home
• Sequator (image averaging for Windows): https://sites.google.com/site/sequatorglobal/
• Red light headlamp: https://amzn.to/3nPKqXu
• DSLR and mirrorless-compatible tracking head: https://amzn.to/3aDOAxO
• Good, cheap 14mm f/2.8: https://amzn.to/2WHUeH2

TUTORIAL TIMESTAMPS:

00:00 Intro to Milky Way Photography
01:42 Camera Settings
14:02 Focusing Technique
18:15 Recommended Gear
25:40 Shooting Conditions
30:57 Image Blending
35:40 Conclusion

If you think it was worth it, I cannot emphasize enough how much it helps when you share the video with other photographers who may find it useful. Thank you! And, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, let me know below, and I’ll do my best to respond to everyone.

~Spencer
https://instagram.com/spencercoxphoto/
#Astrophotography #MilkyWayPhotography

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28 thoughts on “Milky Way Photography Tutorial – The COMPLETE Guide for Beginners

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Stacking is the only think wwe can rely on for a sharp and noiseless image

    I shoot untracked and I crop a bit due to stacking artifacts

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    That is an excellent tutorial. I have fujiXT4 camera. I have 10-24mm f4-5.6. Can I use this lens to shoot milky way with this f stop range? Please advise. Thanks or do I need to get 20 mm f1.8 or 14 mm f2.8? Please advise.
    Thanks again

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Really useful info. 🙂 Thanks

    I now no longer have to get fed up with my stubborn friend refusing to walk into the lake. xD

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    I had to struggle a lot with milky way photography (with stock 18-55mm and so..)

    Biggest differences for me made a cheap 50mm 1.4 Canon lens and a Eos 550D i got for cheap and modded with magic lantern.
    Only MLs features make astrophotography a lot easier

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    I've taken astro photos with the kit lens of my Nikon D5600. The kit lens has no focusing distance marker, so this is what I did: I set the camera to the aperture and focal length (widest for both) of the 18-55mm kit lens. Then during the day I set the focus to manual mode and turned the focus ring several times until the dot in the range finder was blinking (meaning the camera is focused past infinity). I then marked both the focus ring and the lens barrel in the same spot with a dot, using white out or something similar. It is really important at this point that you do not turn the focusing ring any further in the toward infinity direction, or the next part won't work. Then, pointing the lens at a distant object (I used mountain peaks off in the distance, or you could use the moon at night OR during the day, if it's visible at day, or some detailed clouds during the day, it doesn't matter, as long as it's really far away), I backed off on the focusing ring until the range finder indicated the object in the focus point was in-focus, then put a second mark on the focusing ring only.

    Then when you go to take astro photos, set the camera to manual focus, turn the focus ring a bunch of times toward infinity until you line up the first mark, then back off to the second mark. You can do this with the light of your phone's flashlight if need be.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Thank you, great tutorial! I've seen others that charge for this kind of quality and thorough info and you're just putting out there for us to enjoy. Just got back from Yosemite and got my first milky way which I was happy with for a starter, but I clearly have a lot more to learn.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    When you go up a full stop of aperture (such as 2.0/f to 1.4/f), you actually get 100% more light, not half more light.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Thanks for such a detailed tutorial. I'm looking to do some Milky way photography with a Nikon D7500 but am confused whether to buy a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 ATX-i or a Tokina 11-20 f2.8 ATX-i. I've read some pretty good reviews about the 11-16 but also that it gives a hard time to focus at infinity. Kindly advise which lens should I go with?

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Just came across your channel and Milly Way tutorial. Great to see young people explaining the concepts so well and so clearly, removing all the mumbo jumbo that is often unnecessarily added, complicating such a wonderful hobby. Thank you so much. Just what I needed as I begin to delve into astrophotography.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    I've seen a lot of different videos on this subject and I've been doing Milky Way/star shots myself for almost 3 years. This is by far the most informative and practical video I've ever seen. Very thorough and I love how you have a section dedicated to single exposures. Everything you say is just spot on. Not everyone has star trackers and stacking software. I've seen other videos where people talk about shooting at f4 and stacking plus using a tracker but not everyone can afford those plus the time involved. I honestly find shooting single exposures to be the most enjoyable and balanced of the methods. Plus you get more individual shots. Thank you for the awesome video!

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    For the 3x npf rule, instead of the 500 🤔 wouldn't 3x npf give more disturbance than the 500 rule? 500 says 20 seconds for me, while npf says 9 seconds.

    My widest is 24mm f4.
    My fastest aperture is 150mm f1.8.

    Talking fullframe language. Actual language is mft 12mm f4 and 75mm f1.8.

    My spot is a beach with a stone in the water where I was thinking about using as focus point. About 10 meters from the camera.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Pretty good dude but the whole focusing on the moon thing was a little suspect. If the moon is out it’s not exactly the time you want to be out shooting the Milky Way. The last method you mentioned is good, focus on a star and to take it further with mirrorless cameras turn on focus peaking and set the peaking color to red. Also if your camera doesn’t have focus peaking you can focus on a star and zoom in on it with the LCD to confirm focus.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Great video, but how does an exposure that produces a star trail that is three times longer than it is wide produce a brighter star image than a trail that is twice the star width? To get a brighter image wouldn't the photons have to hit a sensor pixel that already collected photons earlier in the exposure? Once no newly arriving photon's are hitting a pixel that captured any initial photons, you should just be smearing out the picture. A star trailed 2 or more times it's diameter may be more visible, but wouldn't be brighter.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Thanks for the great tutorials / videos…I was able to capture my first real Jupiter and the 4 moons last night. But I'm trying to understand why the moons look so big compared to the planet? Thank you! Looking forward to watching and learning from all your videos.

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Spencer, you are the first person to say double or triple NPF time. I have been sticking to the second and will try your advice. Thanks

  • November 17, 2021 at 14:02
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    Quick and Comprehensive explanation of how to, when and with with what equipment focused on astrophotography/Milky Way – also includes practical suggestions about where, when to take photos.

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