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It is not just about the Milky Way

I know Milky Way is beautiful, but if you want to capture a photo with better composition, you will need to include more than just a sky.

Picking a good foreground subject is always the key to a stunning shot. I personally think that the foreground is even more important than the Milky Way. Here are the WHYs.

Better composition

You can apply various composition techniques when composing your shot with a foreground. Looking for something can be used as a leading line to guide your viewer to focus on your subject and the Milky Way. Here's an example.

On top of that, your photo will look more 3D when you have a subject near your camera against something far in the background. It added a sense of depth.

You can even show a sense of scale through your photo. For example, I took this photo of the Key Monastery using a 50mm lens. The lens compression effect makes the Milky Way a lot gigantic compared to the monastery.

Better storytelling

Including a foreground showcases the environment where you took the shot. People can have a better idea of where the photo was taken and even catch their attention. People would want to know more about the shot; how's the place be like, where is it? Is it cold?

Instead of just a beautiful photo of the Milky Way, a beautiful photo of the Milky Way together with an iconic church in New Zealand or the famous volcanic mountain in Indonesia would definitely sound more interesting.

Find your foreground subject.

Finding a good foreground for the Milky Way can be tricky. Not only does the subject need to be interesting enough, but the place also has to be dark enough and has at least minor light pollution. For that, you can check on a light pollution map, e.g. Dark Site Finder.

Furthermore, you also need to ensure that it is facing the right direction so that you can have both the Milky Way and the subject within the frame.

Then, you need to find the right time to photograph the Milky Way. You can use software/apps like Stellarium or Star Walk for the planning.

If you can't find a good subject but the place and time are great for photographing the Milky Way, what you can do is be the subject yourself.

While you are posing out there, you can have your friend help to press your camera shutter button or use the camera's built-in self-timer to take multiple shots.

You may also want to use some tools such as a flashgun or an LED sphere to light up yourself and make the photo look more interesting.

That's all for this article. I hope it will give you a better idea of how to plan your shooting and capture better Milky Way photos. If you wish to learn more from me about how to capture beautiful photos of the Milky Way, you can check out my ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP here.

Happy shooting.

Grey Chow


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