7 Tips for Shooting the Milky Way in Colorado

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One of my favorite photography challenges of late is catching the Milky Way. Whether we’re backpacking or I’m sitting outside the camper at night (YEAH RIMBY), I love to look and see what the conditions for shooting are like.

We happened to have some pretty great luck while outside of Aspen the other week. I set an alarm for 12:30, popped outside of the tent and the sky was perfect, so I bundled up and headed outside - camera in tow. Shout out to Devin to lighting up the tent with a flashlight!

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For all the beginners, just figuring out their DSLR - or wanting to get into astrophotography, here are some helpful hints to get you started!

1: Look for a dark night and dark location. You don’t want to shoot with a big moon… You also don’t want to have a ton of light pollution. You shouldn’t shoot in your neighborhood with street lights or close to city lights. You want the stars to be the focus.

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2: Timing is everything. I like to check this site to see the moon cycle (you want the moon to be small) and PhotoPills is a great tool for location where the Milky Way will be at a specific time and location. You can also judge when it will rise by going out the night before…

3: Make sure you have the right equipment. DSLR, wide lens and tripod! Don’t forget a headlamp. It makes adjusting camera settings in the dark easier!

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4: Learn how to use manual focus on your lens, and your manual settings! I like to start with the settings of a 30” shutter speed, ISO of 1600 and fstop of 2.8 and then adjust from there. My lens of choice is a Canon 16-35mm.

5: Set your camera on a timer. You don’t want to release the shutter with your finger because the movement will affect your image and make it blurry!

6: Shoot in RAW! Period.

7: Lastly, have fun! Learn to paint with light.. Find the stars! You don’t have to go to an epic location to shoot the Milky Way - it’s cool in and of itself!

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Photos & wisdom from Mountain Standard Ambassador, Anna Wong. Check out more of her Colorado adventures at @acwong

Want to gear up for patient nights this summer? Anna's Milky Way Collection has you covered! Use code: MILKYWAY to get $10 off your order of $50+. Power on compadres! We'll see ya out there. 

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