How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography
Manual Mode – Set your camera to manual mode so you can control the Aperture and the shutter speed.
ISO – Start with ISO 3200 or so. This is just a standard starting point, and you will adjust from here. Remember, the higher the ISO, the more digital noise you will have.
The depth of field isn’t very important on these shots but letting the light in the camera is. Therefore you shoot wide open. (The lowest aperture your camera will allow).
Now that you have the ISO and Aperture set in Manual Mode, then roll your shutter speed until your meter reads (0) zero. Take a test shot and adjust from there.
Remember the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails which will not make for a crisp image. You can do star trails specifically, but that’s not what we are going for here since we are starting out with Milky Way photography. We want crisp non-star trail images when doing this. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full frame focal length then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.
Shoot your night photography raw so you can easily edit your images and have more information to work with than if you shot JPEG. When in live view mode you can change your white balance settings and see which looks best for you on each shot. You can shoot in shade or cloud as a standard setting and adjust things later. Add in color in your milky way to match the subject whilst editing in the image later if you would like to also.
Those are all of the basic starting points for doing your Milky Way shots. You will want to find some interesting foreground to make your shot dynamic. Doing plain old Milky Way shots will not win you any awards.