The Milky Way in Shenandoah


Night photography is starting to intrigue me and even more, finding the elusive Milky Way along the eastern seaboard of North America.

I’ve had two opportunities recently to get away from the bright city lights. First in the lowcountry of South Carolina, and most recently in the Shenandoah Mountains.

The first thing that I’ve learned is that there is actually a “Milky Way” season. Who knew? Prime viewing for us is from March through early November. I discovered a wonderful and extremely technical photography app to use as a tool for planning a variety of outings. From sunrise to the milky way Photopills is the photographers personal assistant. It’ll be soon available for Android, but is currently only for IOS / Apple products.

Getting the settings for photographing the milky way was actually quite simple:

Extra wide angle lens at 30 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 3200 or 6400 with the white balance dialed in at Kelvin 3400K.

When looking at the sky I was unable to actually see the milky way, but Photopills offers live view where you can pinpoint where the milky way is, and in particular the center of it. I pointed the lens in the direction and voila!


As you know, I’m a Canon user so finding the right lens was essential. Learning that the Canon version of the wide angle causes color distortion and I learned about the Samyung f/2.8 14mm ultrawide lens which is quite affordable. While manual focus, and you dial in the f/stop, it’s an awesome lens.

After the capture, these images were brought into Lightroom and I used the Dehaze slider. Then they were passed through Nik Dfine 2 for noise reduction. (Nik Collection FREE from Google)

Can’t wait to see your night shots. 🙂

14 replies »

  1. WoW you go Girl…super. I’ve been working on refurbishing my olde hardware. Was out the night before and found lots of neat open clusters. Haven’t had time to fiddle with the camera. Can’t afford to open another front or I’ll get lost in over my head with new stuff. These are super. The second one shows the dark nebula –gas and dust clouds in our galaxy that obscures the bright star shine from the hundreds of millions of stars behind it. The star mappers have drawn this in.

    I will be able to shoot these too. My scopes have equatorial mounts and I’ll be able to do longer time exposures and not get star trails but that will be later when I work into that as an extra project. Have two more scopes to work on, one to rehab and another to build. Purchased a short focal length 8” that will get built and I’ll use the 6” mount. The other is a longer, f/8 *” whose primary mirror I ground and polished back in the 70s that was an incredible scope.

    I enjoy seeing your work…it has dramatically improved from when you first started the postings. Feel free to send me any star-milky way shots you take!


    I’ll be back to pick your brain on post editing techniques and skills you use.


  2. its wonderful .
    Hatsoff more than half of the population living on planet earth dont think seeing a milky way is ever possible

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