I was using 6400 ISO with a f2.8, 28 mill lens with a .46 adaptor on a canon m50 for about 15" for this photo. I tried a 1.8 50 mill, 28 mill w/o adaptor, longer exposure, shorter exposure, higher/lower ISO but to no avail. I was wondering why the milky way is so hidden in these photos. I can barely see it but it runs vertically. Is it something I did during the photo taking? Or post-processing? Thank you guys. enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possibly light pollution from being in an urban area with street lights. You usually have to go out several hundred kilometres to get a decent photo of the Milky Way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nayuki
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nayuki the shapeless red streaks in the photo make me think of airglow, which, if true, would mean the sky is quite unpolluted. OTOH, this could just be an artifact of noise reduction (in this case switching to grayscale would help seeing the actual information). \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruslan
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't you just need more exposure? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 15:12

3 Answers 3


Using the Curves tool in your favorite image editor:

enter image description here


Amateur astronomer here. Most images of the Milky Way we see around are the results of multiple exposures combined in Photoshop or another image-editing software. However, it is indeed possible to get some nice single-shot images, but as xenoid pointed out, you’ll need to play in the curves or otherwise enhance your image in postprocessing.

One thing I suggest you acquire is a light pollution–reduction filter. They are not very expensive (maybe $80 if I remember well, but you might find for cheaper on the second-hand market) and give good results at removing all the light that comes from human technology.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "removing all the light that comes from human technology" is an exaggeration. I imagine that spectrum filters can, at most, remove the two orange lines of sodium lights. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nayuki
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nayuki, until the rise of LED lamps in the past decade, the majority of light pollution came from low-pressure sodium lamps, so those filters were quite effective. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 23:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nayuki: Yes, I exaggerated, and I’m sorry about that. However, they remove more than just sodium spectral lines. Newer filters use a combination of coatings and isolate a few nebular spectral lines. They are not good for Milky Way pictures, but they are excellent for nebulas. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 17:40

'Photo stacking' is a method in which you take multiple images from the same orientation and location, and 'merge' them in post-processing. This enhances the starlight, and reduces the light pollution (very intuitive explanation, not scientifically complete). Using this method enhances the images in a much better way.

You can still use post-processing to do all of this, but photo-stacking is much much better than this.

A wonderful tool for doing all of this is Sequator. It is specifically made for editing star images (Astrophotography), and has an option called 'Reduce Light Pollution'.

Screenshot of Sequator

After that, simple contrast and saturation boosting gives you the desired results!

Final edited image

  • \$\begingroup\$ To correct the digital photos (example in the wild, or in an urban setting), Siril comes to mind as one (though not the only) program to perform the necessary correction of digital photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – Buttonwood
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ So the issue is that the camera software does not count photons for each pixel in a way suitable for deep sky images, and you use something else to do it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen the point for adding several photos of intermediate length over one of the total is that then noise cancels out, single short duration upsets (satellites,...) only show in one and can be removed \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 9 at 6:56

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