Photographing a Milky Way Pano

In this post I'll go into a little of what I go through to get my shots looking the way they do. I'll show the beginning and end of the edit so you can understand the post work that goes into photographing the milky way and the panorama aspect of it. 

On this pano it is actually 66 images stitched together in photoshop ( 3 vertical rows). Since this is so many I chose to use Adobe Lightroom to process the images simply because it's faster. Once I've edited them to my liking (white balance, color, contrast, and lens distortion) I'll export the images as psd files. Once that is done I go into photoshop and stitch them together. That process alone takes 30-40 minutes with 66 images, on average it's about 10-15 minutes. Below is what the stitched image first looks like -

Clearly this is not how I want my final image to look. So I go in and use the warp tool to stretch and straighten out the image to the best that I can. Many times I'll have to go in and manually fine tune the horizon line. In the case of this image I was losing a lot of my foreground so I created a new canvas that was larger. This image in it's full size naturally is 70 inches wide by 34 inches tall. After some final color, brightness, and contrast work this is what the final image comes out to look like -

 

The phenomena in this image is not the northern light but actually air glow! Very rare but always fun to capture as it is not usually seen by the naked eye.