Milky Way reflecting into the Hiwassee River near Webb Brothers rafting in Tennessee

Milky Way Photos

Milky Way photos and tips to take your own Milky way shots

I look at the clock in the car, it was 2am. There’s no way I’m going to make it on time. I’d taken the wrong turn and went 30 minutes in the wrong direction. There was no cell coverage so I could not call to say I AM on my way! It’s just going to take me a while yet.

And my GPS said it could not figure out directions and I should check back later. A little part of me was very tempted to just go home, get back in bed and pretend this all never happened. A bigger part of me was mad I’d already lost plenty of good hours of sleep and was determined that even if everyone else had packed up and left by the time I’d gotten there I would get one photo of the stars that night, Even if the sun was rising when I finally got there!

I eventually arrived and the milky way was just starting to be visible rising at the very edge of the trees.

Settings: f/2.8, ISO-2000, 34 sec yep, too long of an exposure the stars are tiny streaks.

If you’d driven by around 3 am you would have seen a few crazy fools standing on rocks in the river shooting and idlely discussing how fast the water rises when they open the dam upstream. …Then a few minutes later you’d have heard “Check your feet! I think the water is rising. We’ve got to get out of here in a few minutes!”

Settings: f/3.2, ISO-6400, 15 sec

This is looking downstream.

Settings: f/2.8, ISO-8000, 20 sec

It was all good I’d got the shot I came for.

This is the kind of thing you can plan in advance all you want but it really depends on the weather. The moon can’t be hanging around out-shining the stars and of course clouds aren’t good either.


  • Have enough gas in your car. Usually you will be going to a very remote area and most gas stations wont be open at the time of night you’re out.
  • Bring appropriate outer wear for the night temps of the season. You’ll most likely be standing around and not moving much.
  • Know your camera settings well before hand. Fumbling around in the dark is no fun. And trying to google your camera manual on your phone might not even work if there isn’t any service at your remote shooting location.
  • Bring a tripod. Anything is better than nothing. I use a 20.00 tripod from ebay. No joke! My friends use nicer tripods. You just at least want something that will hold your camera perfectly still.
  • A wide angle lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or better is great. But you probably could do something halfway decent with an f/4.0 lens too.
  • A cable release or wireless shutter release is what you want so you aren’t wiggling your camera from touching your shutter.

If you’d like a Milky Way print you can order right here  and they’ll ship to your door in about a week.

You may also like this post with a list of Best fall foliage colors near Knoxville TN


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