Photographing the sky at night can be tricky. In this blog post, I provide some tips for shooting the night sky, and talk through my process of shooting this particular image.
First and foremost, you are going to want the sky to be clear so that there aren't any clouds to obstruct the view. If you're aiming to shoot the chunkiest part of the Milky Way, you're going to want to make sure that it is visible at the time of year that you're shooting and aim for a New Moon to ensure there's as little light as possible emanating from the moon itself.
Other things to consider will be the amount of light pollution around (this is from both nearby towns and the vicinity in which you are shooting). If there is a lot of light pollution, it may hinder your ability to capture the stars.
In terms of gear, it's best to use a wide-angle lens to take in as many stars as possible that will stop down to the widest possible aperture. This will help you capture lots of stars without having to keep the shutter open for too long (otherwise you will start to see star trails rather than stars - but of course, shooting star trails is fun, too!). You'll also need a tripod to hold the camera still during long exposures. You'll also need a high ISO - the high ISO will help your camera see all those twinkling stars.
This image was made using my Canon 5D MkIII and the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. It's a panorama of 10 shots and each was shot at 24mm, ISO 6400, f/2.8, 20 seconds. For this I actually focused on the tree before shooting, then set the camera to manual for the remainder of the panorama to ensure the tree remained in focus (I found that the tree would blur if set to the lens's infinity setting). I use a Really Right Stuff panorama head, which allows me to shoot my camera at the sky upside down, so I could take 10 shots (ensuring at least 20 per cent of each photo would overlap the last) rotating my camera on the panorama head to take in the entire Milky Way. The image was then stitched together in Lightroom and processed.
Feel free to leave me a comment with any questions you may have about this image.