How to make a Milky Way Timelapse

On new moon night of June 2017, I went to Mt Bromo (Indonesia) to shoot Milky Way. Since I had been to Mt Bromo earlier, I was well aware of the area and some shooting locations. I spent two nights in Mt Bromo and one Night in Kawah Ijen chasing the Milky way. Night in Kawah Ijen was marred by clouds but two nights in Bromo were blessed with clear skies.

Here is a time-lapse of the rising of Milky Way over Mt Bromo landscape. If you watch in Full-screen mode on UHD screen you make even notice a few Geostationary satellites. Not sure if any of these is an International Space Stations?

If you are interested in knowing how I made this, read on.


A major challenge in shooting Milky way time-lapse is that it needs a very long time to get a short duration clip. As Milky Way is faintly visible, we need to use a long exposure time to get nice details in our image. If we take a too long exposure, say 30 sec, our overall shooting time will drastically increase so we need to balance it out. If you have entire the entire night go ahead and shoot with maximum possible exposure time.

Equipment Used

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 20mm 1.8G

Intervalometer: Camera inbuilt
Tripod: Manfrotto CX PRO3

Camera Settings

Shutter Speed – 15 Sec
Use the rule of 500 to find out the maximum allowable shutter speed. Rule of 500 says, maximum shutter speed= 500/ focal length of the lens. For example, a 20mm lens gives a maximum exposure of 25 secs. But I decided to go for a lower shutter speed as I wanted more shots in less time and since I was using a f/1.8 lens I was getting decent details in shorter shutter speed.
Aperture – f/1.8
ISO – 2500
White Balance – 4600 K (Fixed)
Image Format – RAW
Number of Images shot: 460
Time between Images: 1 sec
Total Shooting time: 2.25 Hours

Image Processing

I then processed all the images using Adobe Lightroom CC to pop out the Milky way and add more contrast to the overall scene. My setting in Lightroom for all images is also shown below for reference.

You only need to make the change to one of the images. Once you have edited one of your images to your liking, go to Grid view and select all image. All this point, click on “Sync Setting” on the right side bar to copy adjustments made to one image to all other images.

I then exported all images to jpeg with 100% quality and no resizing.

Timelapse processing

I used Adobe Premiere Pro to make a time-lapse from the exported images. Premiere pro is pretty simple to operate, at least for creating time-lapses. All you need to do is follow the below steps

  1. Create a new project
  2. RIght click the “Project” area in “Assembly” and click on “import” option. Click the first image of the sequence and make sure “Image sequence” checkbox is checked while importing. Press “Open”
  3. Drag and drop the image set to “Timeline” section and your time-lapse is ready for review.
  4. You may add sounds, transitions or effects at this stage.
  5. Now you can go to “File -> Export -> Media” to export the Time-lapse to the desired format. I generally use “H.264” format as it gives me decent Quality with pretty low size. You may play around with various export options.


Do let me know if you have any question and I will try to help!

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