Shooting the Milky Way
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Old 10-24-2016   #1
Vicuna
 
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Default Shooting the Milky Way

I am headed to the woods in southern Iowa to not only deer hunt, but to also try and get some shots of the Milky Way. I look at

DarkSiteFinder.com - Light Pollution Map

and it looks like my area is still somewhat polluted, but am hoping the trees surrounding my campsite will filter a lot of the pollution out.

This is my first time trying to shoot the Milky Way and if anyone has tips, please share them!

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Old 10-25-2016   #2
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Default Re: Shooting the Milky Way

Unless you have a way of tracking the stars during a long exposure, a fast wide angle or normal lens is perhaps the best choice for photographing the Milky Way. Some fast lenses aren't ideal for clean star images when used wide open. Experiment. Des Moines, Omaha, and the cities around SE Iowa will have an effect within many miles of you. I'm about 70 miles from Kansas City and in a fairly dark area according to the light pollution map, but KC wipes out any hopes of good star capture in that direction. Perhaps it is Des Moines, 125 miles to my north that contributes to the glow on the horizon, perhaps more of it is from intervening towns.
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Old 10-28-2016   #3
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Default Re: Shooting the Milky Way

Here is my first attempt.....

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Old 10-28-2016   #4
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18 mm focal length on Canon T5i, 1/20 sec @ f/3.5 and ISO 3200. Not bad for your first attempt. However, it looks as though you missed the focus a bit. Auto focus works poorly or not at all on subjects like this. I currently don't know whether your camera model has a Live View mode and a way to magnify the LCD monitor while focusing, but use these if possible instead of looking directly through the viewfinder. Stars are next to impossible to focus on directly because they are too dim and too small. Instead, focus on a very distant window or streetlit area or something like that. Then don't touch either the focusing ring, the zoom ring, or the end of the lens barrel for the rest of the session. Check the focus again if you do touch one of these elements.
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Old 10-28-2016   #5
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I also don't know what kind of tripod you have, but if it is less than rock-solid on a properly firm surface, you must be especially careful to avoid motion blur. This includes handling the camera during exposure. Remote shutter releases, cable releases, and two-second shutter delays are the order of the day. Trip the shutter and remove your hands from the camera before the shutter opens. Locking up the reflex mirror or using Live View, which effectively locks up the mirror while in use, are also recommended to avoid camera movement from mirror slap.
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Old 10-28-2016   #6
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I have a Manfrotto tripod that is pretty stable. I didn't think about mirror shake. I used a RF remote release to avoid camera movement that way. Where I shoot is out in the middle of no where so no distant object to focus on. In fact it was dark enough to make it difficult to see the trees.
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Old 10-28-2016   #7
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In that case, you may be able to turn on the interior light of your car and walk away a hundred yards or so to focus on the car. Or focus your camera just outside of town and handle your lens as little as possible before and during the shooting session.or, if you can't bring your car, a lantern or flashlight might do to focus on. You will probably need something to light your way to the shooting site anyway.

Tip: Because the rod cells in your eye, on which your really low-light vision depends, are insensitive to red, a red filter over the flashlight ointerfere with your night vision a lot less after your turn it off than an unfiltered light beam will, at a cost of making the light somewhat less effective at lighting your way to the destination. Useful also if you need a flashlight to make an adjustment to your camera while shooting. It also really helps to know your camera controls by feel, but you have probably already figured that out for yourself.
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Old 10-28-2016   #8
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Here is my best Milky Way shot, taken on a moonless night in a light green light pollution zone as shown in the above Google map. All four images are from the same exposure: one reduced full-frame image, one cropped from near the middle, and the third from near the lower right edge. Taken with a Canon 40D wearing a Sigma 30 mm f/1.4 lens of an edition prior to the latest "Art" series. Exposure 2.5 seconds @ f/1.6 @ ISO 800, no further exposure correction. You can see the Milky Way looking like a smoke wisp coming up through the center of the full-frame image.

Full-frame:
IMG_6171rs.jpg

Pixel crop from just right of center:
IMG_6171rk.jpg

Pixel crop from near lower right corner. Note the coma causing the brighter stars to look like triangles:
IMG_6171rkEdge.jpg
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Old 11-01-2016   #9
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2nd Attempt - Shot with the mirror up and the noise reduction enabled on the Canon T5i. This first show shows the light pollution from Des Moines, Iowa 75 miles (120 km) away.



This second shot is looking in a westerly direction:



and then looking in a northerly direction:

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Old 11-02-2016   #10
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Ah, yes. Much better technically.


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