Night Sky Adventures         

                                                                                                                               Author: Mike Carroll


The beauty of our universe is certainly something I look forward to, especially the Milky Way. In this article, I'm going to discuss my planning and techniques for the night sky.


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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art DG DN, Sony a7R V 

Planning Your Adventure 

The sound of nature, shooting stars and that feeling of getting lost in yourself  while youre under the night sky is priceless but how do I plan for my next  adventure? Prior to heading out, the first task on my list is to check the bortle  scale in the area I’m heading out to. There are an abundance amount of resources online to check the light pollution. Next, I check the weather, as that plays a vital  role for my next adventure under the stars.

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Joshua Tree National Park, California Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art, Canon EOS R5) 


The weather is one of the most important factors for shooting the night sky. Keep your weather notifications on, as those warnings can save you from driving long  distance especially if you’re planning some star trails.  

Here are some key points of what I look for on my next adventure 

very low cloud coverage 

calm wind conditions  

high humidity can put a damper on your images 

fog (keep an eye on the dew point and temperature. If they’re close together,  there can be some potential fog! 

smoke (wildfires)

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Star Trails, Ashokan Reservoir, Haida Clear-Night Rear Filter Sigma 14-24mm f/ 2.8 DG DN, Sony a7R V)

Shooting Locations/Apps 

It’s best to scout your vantage point during the day, so you can see exactly what  will be in your image. You can use the Night AR feature in PhotoPills to help you  with your desired Milky Way alignment

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Relaxing on a bench at the beach, Barnegat Light, New Jersey. (Lume Cube 2.0,  Sigma 28mm f/1.4, Canon EOS R5)

Light Pollution 

As I mentioned earlier, the light polliution is something to consider when you’re  planning your next shot. Is this image below, I had to battle the light pollution on  the horizon. I also decided to capture this prior to moonset. Sometimes, the  moon can provide lighting that’s needed in certain situations such as this image  below at Joshua Tree National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park, California. (Lume Cube 2.0, Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art,  Sony a7 iv)

Foreground Options 

There’s always something that I look for on the foreground while setting up my  composition. It can be anything from a bench, branches, flowers, etc. Look for  something appealing and take a test shot by shining your light on the foreground  to see what it looks like. My advice is to refrain from staying in one spot for too  long because you could be missing out on other opportunities for other  compositions. Please keep in mind, that your alignments are going to change, as  the Galactic Core is moving Is this image below, the Lume Cube 2.0 certainly helped the details of the  elements on the foreground


Milky Way Refelection, Pepacton Reservior, Upstate, New York (Lume Cube 2.0,  Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Art, Canon EOS R5)

Shooting The Milky Way

For the best results, you should use a full frame camera, such as a mirrorless or  DSLR. Use a lens with a fast aperture of f/1.4 or f/2.8. The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art  is my go to lens for the night sky. You can also use a wide angle zoom with a  constant f/2.8 aperture that way you have more options for compositions and a  more desired focal length. As for as settings, I usually shoot around f/1.8 and I  keep the shutter between 5-10 seconds to avoid star trailing, I turn up the ISO to  compensate for the my exposure.


Alabama Hills, California (Lume Cube 2.0, Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art, Canon EOS R5)

About The Author: Mike Carroll 

Mike Carroll is a professional landscape and night photographer who has a passion  for moon photography, astrophotography, concert photography, long exposures  and cityscapes.  

Born and raised in New Jersey, Mike is a former musician who started his craft by  photographing live music performances. His dedication towards photography has  taken his journey from the sun to the moon and even the Milky Way — It’s all about  getting that once in a lifetime shot! 

Mike will plan his shoots a couple of weeks in advance. Preparation is key to capturing that big moon or that lightning shot — Even if he finds himself running in  a thunderstorm to a location or navigating in the dark to shoot the moon.  

He was recently featured on the TV station News 12 NJ for his time lapse of the  SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket over New Jersey. In addition, the rocket was also  published on Accuweather, Yahoo and MSN. Other TV stations where his work was  featured on were WPIX & NY1. Mike is an author for the Sigma Photo Blog. 

Social media contact 

Instagram @jerseyportraits

Facebook @mikecarrollphoto 

His awards include: 

•2019, 2020 & 2021 PhotoPills Award Book 

•2023, 2019 Empire State Building Photo Contest Finalist  

•2023 World Trade Center - featured inside 7 WTC Art exhibit - Silverstein  Properties 

•2020 NJ Monthly Magazine First Place 

•2021 NJ Monthly Magazine Runner Up 

•2022 Printique Weekly photo contest winner