3 Hours of Milky Way Editing in 60 Seconds!

Capturing the Milky Way over a small town in Maine

Above is a time lapse video of my roughly 3 hour editing session for this photo condensed into 60 seconds. This includes raw image prep in Lightroom, star stacking in Starry Landscape Stacker, blending the sky and foreground in Photoshop, and final creative edits in Photoshop.

It’s Milky Way season again! At least in my neck of the woods, starting in February the bright photogenic Galactic Center of our Milky Way Galaxy is visible on moonless nights, and will be visible until about October-ish. For my first shot of the season I did something I never do — intentionally shoot the Milky Way over a town, straight into light pollution. I didn’t think this would work but I was actually able to get quite a bit of detail in the Milky Way. The mini-stream in the foreground is run-off from recent heavy rains we had here, which made for a nice foreground element at low tide amongst the seaweed covered rocks.

Milky Way Over the Village of Lubec, Maine

Nikon D850 and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm. This is a blend of multiple shots. The sky is a result of star stacking 20 separate exposures, each at ISO 6400 for 10 seconds @ f/2.8. The star stacking was done in Starry Landscape Stacker (Mac only), but you can do it in Sequator for Windows, or Photoshop. The result is a sky with pinpoint stars and low noise. That result was then blended with 3 foreground exposures, each shot at different focus distances for focus stacking (increasing depth of field). Each foreground shot was at ISO 1600, with 2 at f/2.8 for 4 minutes and one at f/4 for 8 minutes. The final result is an image with low noise and everything in focus from the stars to the foreground rocks.


Learn more about my Milky Way editing techniques through my video tutorials for sale on my website, adamwoodworth.com.

Adam Woodworth is a landscape photographer, award-winning filmmaker and software engineer. He has had a love of photography for most of his life and one of his main focuses is landscape astrophotography. His earliest memory of gazing up in awe at the night sky was as a child in a canoe on a lake in Maine, fishing at night. The intensity of the star-filled sky in such a peaceful spot was a powerful experience, and now he enjoys sharing that experience through his photography.

4 Comments

    To the two posters above: What possible positive outcome are you expecting by posting these belittling remarks. Does it make you a better photographer? Promote you as a judge of other people’s work? Or does it reveal your true character? The anonymity of the internet does not give you license to be rude or disrespectful. The anonymity of the internet does give you the option of having no one know you ever saw this material.

    Full disclosure: I do not know Mr. Woodworth. I have never attend one of his workshops. I have purchased one of his tutorials.

    To the two posters above: What possible positive outcome are you expecting by posting these belittling remarks. Does it make you a better photographer? Promote you as a judge of other people’s work? Or does it reveal your true character? The anonymity of the internet does not give you license to be rude or disrespectful. The anonymity of the internet does give you the option of having no one know you ever saw this material. Full disclosure: I do not know Mr. Woodworth. I have never attend one of his workshops. I have purchased one of his tutorials.

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