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Photographing the Milky Way in Thailand

The end of January is not the best time to photograph the Milky Way. Still, travelling to an island with low light pollution was the perfect chance to take my first Milky Way photograph of the year.

Planning

I used PhotoPills for planning the shot. I already knew I wanted a panorama over both land and sea. Since I visited a few places in Thailand, I chose a beach from which I could face South and a day where the moon set early. The day I ended up picking was January 31, at around 5 in the morning.

Gear

I didn’t want to bring a lot with me. Sure, my Manfrotto BeFree tripod would have been great for this shot, but I didn’t want any extra weight for my honeymoon. I had to resort to the Manfrotto Pixi, which was perfect for the job.

The lens I used was the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN. It’s sharp, bright and good for astrophotography if used properly (details below). The other piece of gear I used was an L plate from UURIG. All of these were used on my Sony a6300.

A test shot I took 6 hours before the Milky Way appeared in the sky

The photo

The lenses of choice for those shooting the Milky Way with a Sony APS-C mirrorless body are the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 and the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 (I actually used this one for a Milky Way timelapse). If you don’t have these, you can still take the shot, you just have to work a little harder.

What I ended up doing was mounting the camera in a vertical position, grabbed a few shots and stitched them together with Adobe Photoshop. The original plan was to shoot a 180 panorama. I ended up using only 5 photos from the 14 I took.

Not bad. Each of the photos composing this panorama was shot at f/1.4, 10s, ISO1250

You may have noticed the perspective is a bit high for using just a Manfrotto Pixi. Luckily the beach had some big rocks I used to my advantage. If you’d like to see the photo in its full 68-megapixel glory, click here.

Let’s hope this is the first of a few Milky Way photographs I’ll take this year.

By Dan Pandrea

Man With A Camera. Romanian, copywriter, content editor, photography enthusiast, and an electronic music fan.

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