Capturing The Milky Way Over Yosemite National Park

Photography and Camera News, Reviews, and Inspiration

Back in June of 2018, I was fortunate enough to make a 9-day trip to Yosemite National Park, California to capture the Milky Way galaxy over Half Dome. My entire trip revolved around capturing this image since I had captured nearly this same panorama two years prior during my first ever trip to the park in 2016.

It wasn’t until mid-2017 that I discovered that the panorama I had photographed in daylight in 2016 lined up perfectly with the Milky Way in May and early June. Immediately I knew that this pano was one that I would have to perfect, whatever I had to do in order to capture it with maximum detail.

Having improved my knowledge and technique for photographing the Milky Way and keeping clean foreground significantly since my 2016 trip, I knew that in order to keep the foreground free of noise I would have a few options.

I could photograph the scene in roughly five images in vertical orientation as single exposures and stack five or more frames per section. I could blend the foreground from blue hour by photographing the foreground an hour after sunset using a little bit of atmospheric light to illuminate the foreground and then wait to photograph the Milky Way I could photograph the foreground as single exposures and stack them under starlight, then track the sky to preserve the maximum sky detail and blend them back together. Or finally I could photograph the foreground under starlight as long exposures at a higher aperture giving me more sharpness all the way through the image and use a low ISO to give me less noise. Then track the sky and blend them back together using a one image single exposure panorama beforehand with the alignment to use as reference.