I am out in the Mojave National Preserve in this beautiful area between Vegas and Los Angeles. It’s full of Joshua trees and amazing rock formations, but I decided to come here to shoot the Milky Way! In June the Milky Way comes up and sits right on the horizon for almost 8 hours. It’s just a great time of year to shoot the Milky Way.
Let’s talk about the 3 most important things you need to know in order to shoot the Milky Way.
Indipro just released a new Porta-pak which is perfect for what I’m doing. It’s a 98watt battery that has the ability to use dummy batteries for either Sony or Canon!
1. How to find the Milky Way
First off, the Milky Way is only in the northern hemisphere in the summertime. In the winter it is in the southern hemisphere. But how do you know where and when it’s going to come up? There are many apps that help you find the Milky Way, but the one I love the most is Sky Guide. The reason I like Sky Guide is it has a search option, so I can type in Milky Way and then it comes up and all I have to do is orient the compass to find what direction and what time it will be in the sky. Last night it came up at about 9:00pm but it was way too low in the sky to do anything because there was too much light, so I waited until about 10:30pm to start shooting.
The next thing to consider is the moon! You don’t want to shoot on a night with a full moon because there is just too much light, you’ll never see the stars. So you have to hit at the end of the month when there is no full moon. You need a night with just a small waxing moon that is just a sliver in the sky. That’s when you want to shoot!
2. Camera settings
My settings are:
I’m going to change that daylight into what I like when I get into lightroom because I’m shooting in RAW. I only want to shoot this in RAW.
So those are my settings, and that gives me now 20-second exposure, giving me only 3 frames per minute. That means in 60 minutes I only get 180 images per hour. So that them put into a 24 fps video, gives me 7.5 sec of video per hour! If I do 4 hours, I’m barely getting a 30 second piece.
And that’s why I use a little edelkrone slide trackers, so I can give the video a beginning and endpoint so it moves very slowly across the sky over the 4 hours.
Another thing to consider is your focus. Turn your autofocus off, turn your vibration control off so that you just have manual focus. Then what you want to do is during the daytime, get up your camera and focus the camera as far away as possible so that it goes to infinity. You want to make note of where on the infinity it lands so that it’s not going too far and out of focus.
3 Battery power
I’ve got 3 LP batteries going here; 1 for the slider, 1 for the pan device and 1 for the camera. So that’s a lot of batteries but at 4 hours, it concerns me that they’re not going to work that long, so with timelapse I’ve always done it with some sort of external battery source.
New from Indypro, the Porta-pak’s are perfect because it’s a little cage with a block that you can out underneath your camera, you can plug your camera in now and I can do timelapse all night.
It comes with a splitter so I can run 2 of the dummy batteries. I can run one to my slider and one to my panning device. So it’s a perfect setup to be able to give you all the battery that you need. When I’m out like this and I can’t charge, I’ve shot all night and I could shoot all day now. I don’t have to worry about trying to charge batteries; I’ve got enough power to do whatever I need to.
They’re not super heavy. I’ve got one on a little clamp on the side here, running the power for my sliding and panning devices, and this top one I love cause it just sits under the camera, on top of the ball head. It’s a perfect setup!
So there you have it! Shooting the Milky Way! How to find it, camera settings and how to have the battery power to shoot it and keep you shooting into the day!
Keep those cameras rolling, and keep on clicking!
Huge thanks to Indypro for showing us these incredible batteries to help us shoot the Milky Way!
Indipro Porta-pak: https://www.indiproco.com/porta-pak-battery-system/
Canon EOS R
Tamron 15-30mm 2.8 SP Lens
Vanguard discount code: SLANTED LENS