Hali Milkyway

Hali Milkyway

Milky way photography

For us Iceland based photographers, photographing the Milky Way is generally something we do while we are waiting for the Northern Lights to appear. There are many parts of Iceland with zero light pollution so it is worthwhile to head out on a moonless night if there is a cloudless sky. The Milky Way is normally less vivid than the aurora and requires all the equipment needed for Northern lights photography, but on volume 11. We all had some nice opportunities on this moonless night.

Superior Live View

This was the first time I tested my new Canon 5d live view in a real dark situation. I was able to see a few of the brightest stars in the live view. This meant that I was able to fine focus the lens and this also meant that I could use a larger aperture such as f/2.2 to achieve more exposure within 19 seconds. This shutter speed really reduces the amount of movement in the stars (star-trails) which is preferable in a Milky Way photograph.


Canon’s live view is an invaluable tool that can increase your chances of taking a successful night photo.  Getting a fine focus on stars is a relatively new concept.  Stars are too small and dim for auto-focus and the infinity mark on your lens can vary in accuracy with various temperatures.  If the moon is visible, you can sometimes  use auto-focus to get a perfect infinity focus.  You can’t see the Milky way so well when the moon is out, so having the ability to get a perfect infinity focus on a moonless night is a fantastic bonus.


This live view is an invaluable tool that can increase your chances of taking a successful night photo.


This scene was taken from the farmland at Hali. This is the hotel base for most of our multi-day tours. It is great to be able to walk from your hotel room to photograph the Milky way.

Shot to nothing

Shot to nothing

One thing I am sure of though is that despite the low visibility, the arctic circle must be in this photograph.

Red Blaze – Night Exposure

Red Blaze – Night Exposure

Although the Northern lights require a long exposure, the object is often to reduce exposure time as much as possible to achieve a usable exposure and with minimal star trails.

Fjallabak Night

Fjallabak Night

Taken on July 17, 2011 on a photo tour through Iceland’s Southern Highlands (or Fjallabak – behind the mountains).

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