How to edit the Milky Way photos in Adobe Lightroom

Before After Milkyway

This short tutorial video in Lightroom will show you how to turn a simple RAW photo of the Milky Way into the kind of bright, vibrant Milky Way shot you’re probably used to seeing on this page.

When shooting the Milky Way galaxy, there are a few things to think about. First, you want to get as much of the Milky Way exposed as possible without blurring the stars. This a little bit depends on your lens. Many photographers use the 500 rule to determine their shutter speed. You divide your lens into 500. So, if you had a 50mm lens (500/50), you couldn’t expose longer than 10 seconds. If you had a 25mm lens, you could expose for 20 seconds – etc. In this case, Rob had a 16mm lens with a shutter speed of 15 seconds. I think he could have even exposed longer, which may have given a better histogram. However, with the people in the shot, you risk them blurring as they stand their. The truth is, there is a lot to work with in this photo.

A lot of photo manipulation is done in this video. Keep in mind that I’m doing a lot of manipulation based on my preferences. For much of what I do, I like the surreal look. I often add vibrant colors that may look unnatural to what you had in the environment. I’m not a purist. However, the few things that you have to keep in mind are:

  1. 1. Don’t over-do the grain. It will look bad.
  2. 2. Milky Way shots are best if your eye is drawn to it.
  3. 3. Always remember your distribution. If you’re making photos for a giant wall, work hard to eliminate any noise.

The purpose of thus tutorial isn’t to copy him exactly, but to show beginners just how easy it is to make the Milky Way “pop” out of a photo. If you’ve never tried taking a picture of the Milky Way, it may just be the push you need to give it a go.