New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Post Production Tips

How To Process Your Milky Way Photos For Maximum Effect

By Anthony Thurston on October 15th 2014

The art of night sky imagery begins with capturing the image, but the real artistry happens in post production, and how you choose to process your image.

Credit: Matthew Saville

Credit: Matthew Saville

Kenneth Brandon is an avid night sky shooter, who runs a great channel on YouTube, and today, I wanted to share this amazing tutorial he did on how to process images of the Milky Way. Kenneth is a timelapse guy, so the context of his processing is for timelapse, but it will be no different for you if you are just shooting single stills. You will just only do this once, rather than repeat it many times.

The process here would be very similar if you are using Lightroom. The sliders are all the same as in Camera RAW, they are just laid out differently. So you would do your base processing in Lightroom, and then pull the image into Photoshop using Lightroom’s built-in features for that.

I found this particular tutorial very interesting. I loved hearing his process and not only what decisions he was making, but why he was making them. My only bit of hesitation here is that he is editing every single shot like this in Photoshop, that is a LOT of work for timelapse (24 frames for every one second of video). But, if you have seen any off his timelapse stuff on this channel, you know that it’s time well spent.

It also is worth mentioning that this would be a great technique to try if you were hoping to enter our Night Sky Contest(which closes tomorrow!), but were stuck on how to process your image for the maximum effect. 


What did you think of this tutorial? Has it helped open your eyes to how to process an amazing looking night sky image? Leave a comment below!

[via Kenneth Brandon on Youtube]

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Kenneth Brandon

    Thanks for featuring my video!

    Since I made the video I’ve improved a lot in editing Milky way shots. I should update my tutorial!

    A quick correction, when I do time-lapse I don’t edit each frame individually. Check out my time-lapse tutorial for more info:

    | |
  2. Jason Switzer

    This was a really great tutorial. The only thing I need to pull this off is to find some “dark sky.” Sadly, that doesn’t exist in Detroit. Maybe when I go on vacation to the Upper Peninsula or something. :)

    | |
  3. Brian Stalter

    Great stuff, I was actually wondering about this the other night while looking at the Active Contest on night photography here on SLRLounge.

    | |
  4. Sathiaseelan Pitchai

    I started shooting night sky two years back , I searched a lot about shooting Milky way and star trails but couldn’t find such a useful article back then. I even attended a workshop but they dint teach anything about the post processing which is one of the main backbone for stunning milky way picture. This article should be a good starting point for people who are entering into night sky photography.

    | |
  5. Michael Moe

    This is a great tutorial. I learned a lot about editing Milkyway-Timelapses, but there is a long way to go! ;)

    | |