Below, New Zealand’s Josh Sweet takes us through how he took this ‘astro panorama’ of the Milky Way, and he details his favorite astrophotography equipment, tools, and learning resources.
How did you plan the shot?
This shot wasn’t really planned. I knew I wanted to try and do a panorama but I didn’t know where to go or what to put in the foreground.
One night I went outside and checked the sky to see if it would be worth going out for photos, I saw the clearest Milky Way I have ever seen.
I knew I had to at least try to shoot so I went up the road a few kilometers until I could see all of the Milky Way arch.
I used the website In-The-Sky.org to see what direction the core would be in. The photos were taken at about 10:30 pm.
What equipment do you use?
How did you compose the shot?
This a stacked panorama of 99 different exposures, each exposure being 5 seconds long at f/2 and ISO 6400.
I used a higher ISO because I was stacking to remove noise and it allowed me to use a shorter shutter speed and let me get out of the cold quicker.
What do you do in post-production?
I used Lightroom to do lens corrections and a slight white balance adjustment before I stacked them.
Stacking was done in Sequator to reduce noise with 5 images per stack. I then imported them all to an application called Hugin which takes all of your images and stitches them together to create a panorama.
After the panorama was created I imported it into Lightroom where I made basic adjustments; white balance, tone curve, hue/saturation, etc. I then I went into photoshop to fix some small errors from the stitching.
All of the post-processing took 7-8 hours. Most of my post I learned myself just messing around in Lightroom and some Youtube tutorials.
Can you recommend any learning resources that have worked for you?
I can highly recommend the website Lonely Speck, especially their tutorial on stacked astro panoramas, which is actually where I got the idea for this photo from.
About you – Josh Sweet
I live in New Zealand and am just a hobbyist right now but I would love to make photography my job!
My favourite types of photography have to be astrophotography and car/motorsport photography.
You can find me on Instagram @joshsweet24 if you want to see more of my work.