How To Capture Milky Way In India | Astrophotography Basics For Beginners

9 years back when I started with photography, photos of Milky way always fascinated me. A device (D-SLR) invented by humans which has the power to capture the great Milky way excited me even more. It always made me think that Milky way was not visible in India, but when I started studying about Milky way photography I got to know that our Earth is a part of Milky way Galaxy and it is visible from everywhere. It is true you cannot shoot milky way all year around, there are certain time slots when the “Core” of Milky-way is visible in certain parts of Earth. In Maharashtra, the best time to Shoot Milky way starts from March and ends after May as it get cloudy.



As I started to explore Milky way Photography I realized that shooting Milky way was not as easy as I thought. There is a strict workflow you need to follow if you want to capture Milky way. At start it was all Rocket science for me but as I started to explore I realized any one can capture Milky way if you follow the workflow. So I have tried my best to list down the workflow and techniques to capture Milky way in India.





Milky way Photography is categorized under long exposure photography, which simply means, you need a camera which allows you to open the shutter for longer duration. Thus you need a camera which allows you to shoot in Manual Mode, giving you 100% control on your camera settings. We personally prefer using 25 to 30 seconds shutter speed to get good details of Milky way.




A fast super wide angle lens (f/2.8 or lesser) with infinity focus is a great equipment to capture the fine details of Milky way.  If you are not able to find a fast lens with infinity focus you can always shoot with your kit lens at f/3.5. You simply have to auto focus on a far distance light source and then convert it into Manual Focus. If you keep your lens on Auto Focus mode it won’t be able to focus, thus always keep it on Manual mode. Always zoom in the photos and check whether the stars are in sharp focus or not.


Any good sturdy tripod is suitable for Milk way Photography. As the shutter is going to be open for more than 20 seconds we have to make sure there is no camera shake.

Shutter Release Remote/Cable

Wired or wireless shutter release cable is used by many Night Sky photographers as it helps to reduce the camera shake when you press the shutter button.


If you don’t have shutter release cable you can switch your camera to self timer mode and press the button which will help to avoid the unwanted shake. There are two types of gear available in market one is called Intervalometer and another is shutter release cable which is cheaper compared to intervalometer.



Always look for clear sky. In cloudy conditions, the Milkyway will get covered by the clouds. We use to check the weather conditions and confirm the date accordingly.  



When it comes to Milkyway Photography a Dark Sky is the most suitable place. Dark sky is a place which is away from Light Pollution. Lesser the light pollution clearer the sky looks. We shoot a lot in Naneghat which is close to Ghatgar. You can go on this website and type your location, if your location is not on the website type the closest known location and you will be able to see the dark sky in the map. The Map is divided into two different color patches, i.e. grey and black patch. The grey patches represent the light polluted areas which you have to avoid and dark patches represent the Dark Sky. With the help of this map you can find your own Dark Sky.



With the advancement in technology you have many different apps and software to locate the position of Milky way. We personally use ‘Stellarium’ as it is very precise and free. You can download this software for free from The moment you type your location the software will align according to your location. You can change the Date and Time and see the position of Milky way on that given Date and Time. It usually rises between South and East from Naneghat.



Camera Exposure


f/2.8 with infinity focus gives best result. Bigger the aperture opening more light will enter. Thus always keep the widest lens opening available on your lens. If you are using your kit lens use f/3.5.



As we will be shooting under Dark Sky we have to boost our ISO to minimum 1250 or 1600 depending upon the sensitivity of your D-SLR sensor. The Maximum ISO we used till now is 6400 on Nikon D7000 with Tokina 11-16mm shot at f/2.8.

Shutter Speed

There is a calculation rule called ‘500 Rule’ which means you have to divide 500 by the focal length of your lens and you get the required shutter speed. This Rule is followed to avoid Startrails in your Milkyway Photos. We personally prefer the trial and error method to get the best result for our photos. We use a shutter speed of 25 or 30 seconds for our photos.

White Balance

We always shoot in Auto Mode and then finalize the colors in Post processing.


Depending upon the feedback we will be working on a video on How to capture Milky way in India. Please write us back if you guys want a video on how to capture Milkyway in India. If you have any doubts please feel free to mail or leave a message. Please register yourself on our website for updates on our Milky way Photography Workshop.

Download GMax Studios apps for iPhone and Android


Now you can download GMax Studios apps for iPhone and Android.

While you have been looking to learn photography, we have been looking at ways to be in touch with all the wonderful photographers who are a part of our community and engaging with them while giving them easy access to our content.

So, we decided to launch apps for GMax Studios - both for the iPhone and Android operating systems.

With these apps, we hope that we can stay closely in touch as the apps will have the forum features, you will get  notifications about important events like live chats, photo walks and workshops etc. The apps will also have content and articles exclusively available on the app.  


This app is for all Android phones like Samsung, HTC, Nexus etc. If you have a smartphone running Android OS you can download the app from the following link:

download link:




This of course is the app for the Iphone. You can click the link given below or click on the the screen shot.

Download link:

Download GMax Studios apps-iphone
Download GMax Studios apps-iphone

We would really love it if you share this with all your friends and and family who are interested in photography.

Wildlife photography with wildlife photographer David Yarrow


Wildlife photography as art

For most people making a living off photography is a dream and quite a few people keep chasing their dream and shooting all kinds of photographs without relooking at the philosophy behind their photographs.

Yes. Learning photography is just not enough - there is a philosophy that needs to shine through the pictures and only then will there be a value to them. This applies to any kind of photography - wildlife photography, portrait photography, wedding photography or any other.

Learn photography wildlife photography with David Yarrow

Learn photography wildlife photography with David Yarrow

David Yarrow is a photographer whose photographs sell for as much as  £ 14,000 (Source: The Daily Mail) How did he do this? By rethinking the way he took photographs! He thought of Robert Capa's quote "If your photographs aren't good enough, you are not close enough!" and changed his way of shooting. He says that if you are into wildlife photography and you are "looking down" on your subjects - then they are nothing but snapshots that you can show to your children.

Wildlife photography with GMax Studios

Wildlife photography with GMax Studios

To turn his photographs into works of art that sell for astronomical amounts, he really gets up close and personal to his subjects. He takes photographs by placing his cameras really close and triggers them via remote.

Wildlife photography interview with wildlife photographer David Yarrow

Wildlife photography interview with wildlife photographer David Yarrow

In this interview given to YouPic, he talks about all this and much more that defines his photography. GMax Studios is proud to be associated with YouPic in bringing you this interview with David Yarrow.  Watch it to truly get inspired. We guarantee it will inspire you - no matter what kind of photography you do.

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[SOUND] [MUSIC] We bring together for you, the best photographers in the world. [MUSIC] >> Andy Warhol said, my favorite color is white and my favorite color is black. So use the whites, use the blacks, don't have fifty shades of grey. We'll have that as well, but use the blacks and use the whites.

[MUSIC] I got fascinated in sharks because I felt that sharks hadn't been photographed well. After about 30 hours dedicated in the water to this, I got the big shot of the shark and a seal. And I still think it's the strongest picture of shark predation that I know, and it's pin-sharp.

[MUSIC] And then someone said to me, do you see that picture in the Daily Telegraph, can I get a big one for my office? Because I want anyone that comes into my office to be very scared of me, and the best way of doing that is to have a big shark eating something behind my desk.

And he said, how much would it cost? I said, I don't know, but we'll put in a nice frame may be for 5,000 Pounds. And he said, okay, I'll have two. And that was when the penny dropped that the way to make money from my kind of photography was in fine art. Producing limited edition fine art prints that were aesthetically strong enough, or evocative enough that people would put them on their wall.

[MUSIC] I think the mistake a lot of photographers, wildlife photographers make is that they go on a trip without any specific idea of what kind of African animal they're gonna be shooting. And for me you go, you choose the animal, and then you know where you're gonna go to photograph the animal.

And by far and away, the best place in the world to photograph elephants is Amboseli. Wildlife photographers, many of them use telephotos far too much. If you're gonna be photographing a beautiful woman, you're never gonna shoot her with a 400 millimeter lens or even a 200 or a 300.

You'd shoot her with a standard lens or a wide angle, and it should be the same with animals. It's then just the logistical issues, how you get yourself in a position to do that whilst remaining safe. [MUSIC] The great beauty of elephants is there's no animal where their predicted path can be determined with greater clarity and assurance than an elephant, they tend to walk in straight lines.

So if you see a herd walking across a dry lake, you get 200 yards ahead of them, and you know probably where they're gonna, within a yard, where they're gonna come. You got the peak of Kilimanjaro peaking out over the top of the clouds, and the light's getting better every five minutes, these are probably not bad circumstances.

You can see the big guy with that big tusk over there on the left, sadly that's about 8 grand in the local market, and that's 60 grand in China. You put the remote down, and you prefocus and then you get the hell out of there, so that they're in no way detoured by you. And they probably don't see the camera until they're about a foot and a half away from it, which is perfect because that's what you want.

So you want proximity and a ground level perspective. Okay, so I'm gonna get out of the car, I'm gonna set up the remote. [MUSIC] I walked into a little bit of elephant manure. Okay, let's get out of here. [MUSIC] Okay, let's go and grab it. [NOISE] There's nothing I wanna do less than photograph with blue sky and sunshine.

I want moody, almost sort of impending doom in the skies, and you get that in Amboseli in October. It's the best canvas on which to paint with light, and take pictures of anywhere in the world I think. [MUSIC] The behavior of elephants has changed because of cattle. Because the Maasai brought their cattle in, in big numbers into the park, and that's resulted in more humans and more lions.

So the elephants don't behave in the way that they used to, and lake crossings are rarer. [MUSIC] I position scouts on the hills overlooking Amboseli dry lake, and as soon as they see the beginnings of a herd crossing the lake, we'll find out. And on this occasion it was the middle of the day, which doesn't tend to suit my style because the sun's too high, but gratifyingly there was quite a lot of cloud cover, and it was a big herd, it was 25 elephants, and I didn't even have my photographic clothing on.

I was just hanging around in swimming trunks and loafers, but we charged there to the lake, and must have been going goodness knows what speed. And this series is about 15 minutes, but there was one lovely moment where I was lying on the ground, and the elephants were about 60 yards away from me, and they just didn't know whether to go left or right of me.

They don't tend to charge there because there is no vegetation, so they're not surprised, they know the human is there. The time you gotta be careful of an elephant is when you surprise it, but in Amboseli you're quite safe, relatively. And they just huddled together, and I knew as soon as when I pressed the trigger, I thought this composition is coming together rather nicely.

And then when I got back, I knew I'd got a very big image. [SOUND] My approach is two-fold. Firstly, that you have to be close, and borrowing from Robert Capa, if the pictures, if they're not good enough, you're not close enough. Ansel Adams also said that the lens looks both ways.

It's truer and truer as the lens gets shorter and shorter. I don't think the lens necessarily looks both ways with a 400, it's more likely to look both ways with a 50 or a 35, just staring right back into your soul. I think also if you're photographing a dangerous animal, if your line of sight is higher than the eyes of the animal, that immediately hints at an artificial encounter.

It hints at the fact that you're higher than the animal. No more so than Polar bears, and I've wasted so much time photographing Polar bears. Because normally if a Polar bear comes up to a boat, and you photograph it from the deck looking down at the Polar bear looking up at you, that's just pulp.

There's nothing interesting in that photograph, other than for it to show your kids when you get home. So we did a lot of research as to the best place in the world to photograph Polar bears, and for me to get close and be safe. And we found a place where for about a week, there's very strange behavior in that the Polar bears seem to be in collaboration with the humans because the Inuits are whaling, and they bring whales in.

And the bears now know that the humans are their friends because they can feed off the whale carcasses, and for about two weeks you can get very close to the Polar bears. And there's one picture I've got which was printed in the Telegraph recently and sells very well, where I actually managed to take a selfie of myself in the Polar bear's eyes because I was a foot and a half away.

And I had an Inuit fisherman behind me saying, I think you're okay with this one, and it was almost the ultimate example of putting trust in someone else because the Polar bear was two feet from my lens. [MUSIC] I think with lions, again I want to photograph lions from the ground up.

But a remote control is very much the way that I like to photograph dangerous animals, I can't really see any other way to do it. You gotta be a bit careful because the cameras can be eaten. Or Nikon are fed up with me because whenever I bring it back, a damaged camera, normally you've got all these boxes to tick like dropped it, or it fell in the water, and I have to fill in new things like kicked by elephant.

[NOISE] Or eaten by a lion. So they find it quite, [LAUGH] Whenever I go down to see them in Richmond they go, which box are you gonna tick this time? But they quite enjoy it because I guess it's a different experience for them trying to mend a lion-eaten D4S, or whatever. The key to strong photography of the kind that I do, not doing a fashion shoot for Vogue, is access.

It is about putting in the spade-work logistically and research-wise to find yourself in the right position at the right time, to then use that conduit, and use your heart and your brain and your eye. But those things are all secondary to getting yourself in that position, whether it be with an individual, whether it be with a dangerous animal, whether it be in a scene.

And so I think the actual art of pressing the trigger is maybe 5% of the job, 95% of the job is finding yourself in the position where you want to then go and take the trigger. I'm just trying to get the silhouettes with the dust flying up, which is quite scary. [SOUND] Nearly, bloody nearly.

Not quite, I think nearly. And I also admire photographers who understand that if they come back from a trip with 200 good photographs, that's too many. I think plurality is the bane of many photographers. I think I've taken this year, this year, I think maybe 4 good pictures, and maybe 2 really, really strong pictures that will stand the test of time.

So that's 6, 6 in 12 months. I know people will look and say, [LAUGH] Well, that's not very good. [LAUGH] But the whole point is that's what you're looking to do. If it was that easy, then how on earth could you be selling a picture for a huge sum of money, if you can just leave Heathrow on Monday, and take a picture on Tuesday? You can't.

[MUSIC] [SOUND] Be inspired, be better, be great. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND].

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon

What are metering modes?

 To get a proper exposure and to avoid underexposing or overexposing your photograph, the camera meters the amount of light hitting your subject and makes a quick calculation based on it to tell you the reading of a certain scene. It is pretty much like how we see with our eyes. The light hitting the subject is reflected into the lens and the camera makes a judgement based on it to tell us our exposure value. To evaluate this, the cameras usually have three or four metering modes built into them.

How is light measured?

The amount of light falling on the subject is called incident light and the light bouncing back off, after hitting the subject is called reflected light.

Reflected and Incident Light

Reflected and Incident Light

Traditionally, light meters like the one shown below are used to measure the amount of light falling on a subject. So technically, they are often referred to as Incident Light Meters. Though some of them also have the capability of  measuring reflected light.

Incident Light meter

Incident Light meter

 Cameras on the other hand measure reflected light - the light bouncing off the subject and entering the lens.

What is Incident and Reflected Light

What is Incident and Reflected Light

The problem with metering reflected light is that not all colours reflect back the same amount of light - though the amount of light falling on them might be the same.

It is for this reason that most cameras have more than one metering mode. Though the camera meters are calibrated to compensate for reading reflected light, they are also calibrated to done one more thing, if they are left to their own - expose everything properly.  Your camera will likely get fooled under these three conditions

  1. Strong whites

  2. Strong blacks

  3. Backlight


What are the different metering modes?

Usually, every camera has three metering modes, whether it is a Canon, Nikon, Fuji or Sony. They just call it by different names to confuse us.

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon Sony and Fuji

Mastering metering modes on Canon and Nikon Sony and Fuji

Matrix metering, Evaluative or Multi metering mode

As you can see from the chart below, different camera companies refer to this metering mode by different names. It is an extremely complex and advanced metering mode  and is accurate 90% of the time.

Nikon Matrix Canon Evaluative metering

Nikon Matrix Canon Evaluative metering

In this mode, the camera analyses the entire frame and then,  based on very complex algorithms and calculations gives you what it thinks is the perfect exposure for that scene. The algorithms and calculations used by each company are different and are top secret because this is the metering mode that 90% of the camera users use 90% of the time. In other words, this metering mode actually decides the reputation of a camera in the minds of the common user. To give you an example, Nikon describes the Matrix Metering mode as follows:

Matrix metering evaluates multiple segments of a scene to determine the best exposure by essentially splitting the scene into sections, evaluating either 420-segments or 1,005 segments, depending on the Nikon D-SLR in use.

The 3D Color Matrix Meter II takes into account the scene's contrast and brightness, the subject's distance (via a D- or G-type NIKKOR lens), the color of the subject within the scene and RGB color values in every section of the scene. 3D Color Matrix Metering II also uses special exposure-evaluation algorithms, optimized for digital imaging, that detect highlight areas. The meter then accesses a database of over 30,000 actual images to determine the best exposure for the scene. Once the camera receives the scene data, its powerful microcomputer and the database work together to provide the finest automatic exposure control available.

30,000 images! Imagine that! I suspect that the other camera makers have similar complex technology working in their cameras as well - they just haven't shared it with me yet!

The image below shows a camera in Matrix, Evaluative or Multi metering mode where the yellow overlay represents the entire frame being covered and analysed.

Metering viewfinder matrix Nikon Canon Evaluative Sony Fuji

Metering viewfinder matrix Nikon Canon Evaluative Sony Fuji

Centre weighted metering mode

In this metering mode, only the centre reading is taken as depicted by the yellow overlay in the photograph below. In some cameras, you can control the size of the centre which gives you more control over your photographs.

Metering viewfinder Centre

Metering viewfinder Centre

Spot metering mode

In this mode, the camera takes the reading only from the spot that you have selected and practically ignores the rest of the frame. Spot metering mode is an extremely precise mode and it can give some fantastic results under some conditions.

Spot metering

Spot metering

For example, in the photograph above, I was only worried about  exposing the face of the actor correctly because it was meant to be a dark mysterious scene. So I switched the metering mode to spot metering. (Click on the file to be taken to the larger version or click here)

In addition to this, some cameras might have a partial evaluative or some other nonsensical metering mode which I don't bother with and I suggest you don't either. The reason I say this is, the more you stick to the basics of photography and master them and rely less on proprietary technology, the better photographer you will be. In addition to this to this, you will also be able to switch camera models, makes and brands at the drop of a hat. This eventually leads to great freedom - if as a photographer, you can be free of model or brands. You should definitely aim for that.

In conclusion, the right metering mode can help you translate the photograph that you have in your mind into reality. I recommend starting with the Matrix metering mode on the Nikon or the Evaluative mode on the can Canon and then slowly start experimenting with other modes to see which one you prefer under what circumstance.

 To learn photography, we recommend you read The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Photography

Watch the video on metering modes below to understand more about metering modes and please share this article with your friends if you liked it.

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Fieldwork - Shooting Swanand Kirkire


Fieldwork  - Shooting Swanand Kirkire

It is not every day that you are woken up by a phone call from a two-time National Award Winner.

I picked up the phone. It was Swanand Kirkire who has got a cult following for his song Baawra Man. If you have not heard this song, please hit the link now!!! He has also won the National Award, twice - once for Lage Raho Munnabhai and the second time for 3 Idiots.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

He was headed for an interview and needed a picture really quickly. 15-20 mins is all he had to stop by at my place.

"I don't want it to look like a photograph-photograph, you know... like it has been shot!" he said."Now, how on Earth could a photograph look as if it had not been shot," I wondered. Before I could muster a reply, he asked, "What clothes should I carry?" "Uh... A white shirt and a black shirt and maybe...." I barely managed to say before he said "See you!" and hung up.

The process

What aspect of a personality can you encompass in a photograph when he is a actor, director, writer and lyricist all rolled into one? I was still contemplating the "setting of the shot" but I was sure of one thing - I wanted to shoot him using just natural light. This was because he did not want the picture to look as if it had been shot.

We tried a few settings, like the one pictured above, sitting at a piano but we were not happy with it. He said it made him look "false" since he barely knew how to play the piano and I was not happy the way the warmer light was blending with the daylight. Both were different colour temperatures and they were not looking good. Though, I must add that there are no such hard and fast rules for mixing colour temperature or white balance.

Then I noticed he was wearing a red bracelet made of beads and that gave me an idea. I mustered up all the red coloured things in the house which could be at writer's table and made him sit on my dining table. I even got my goldfish bowl as a prop. There was natural light coming through the window (my favourite light source!) from the right side of the camera and I asked my driver (the only help available at that time!) to hold a small reflector from the left side of the camera.

Then I asked Swanand to write something, really write something and forget that I was there! He said, "How can I do that early in the morning?". I said, "The same way, I am shooting your photograph!" He smiled and set pen to paper and started writing something.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

He got a phone call in the middle of the session and I asked him to take it, resulting in the above picture. He loved it but I knew that the magazine/newspaper would not.

The result

The final shot that satisfied us both is the one pictured below. Here, satisfaction is the key word. I don't know if  I could have shot a better photograph that day (I would like to believe, I could have!) but he and I, both were satisfied with the outcome considering the amount of time, I had to plan the shot, take it and actually deliver it to him right then and  there. Also, I made him adjust the time in his watch to make it look like it was some time later in the day. Somehow, it just felt better to me. I look at this photograph often, planning what all will I do if someone walks in my door under similar circumstances with a similar request. I have made quite an exhaustive list - but that is material for another post.

Swanand Kirkire
Swanand Kirkire

The first picture at the piano became the profile picture of the Swanand Kirkire authorised Facebook page.

The real bonus was that he actually wrote a beautiful poem on my goldfish while he was sitting there. That was really a wonderful surprise.

Have you shot any portraits using only natural light recently? Share them with us. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

UPDATE: If you really love his work, you might want to click here to see an informal video recording I shot where he is singing Baawra Mann with Shantanu Moitra

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Subscribe to GMax Studios YouTube channel

Photography Inspiration - Part 1 - Going to the movies


Photography Inspiration! Ah, you elusive woman. always in the mood for a game of hide and seek. You elude me most of the time and yet when I give up all hope - you stare me in the face.

When you learn photography, it is easy to get bored of shooting the stuff that you usually do. You find that you have shot almost everything around you - at least, you think so!

I often look at movies as a source of inspiration or ideas to create a new photograph or explore a new style of photography.

Looking at the work of masters on top of their game is a great way to learn photography. I am not saying that all of us have access to spaceships and elaborate sets and lights.

Still from the movie 2001: A Space oDyssey

But looking at movies and analysing their shots and frames can teach us a great deal about learning photography.

We can learn about composition

Image from the movie Casablanca

We can learn about contrasting colour

Photo from the Film Eyes Wide Shut Nicole Kidman

We can learn about taking close shots of everyday objects

Photography Inspiration

We can learn about the use of dominant colours

Using colours in The Grand Budapest Hotel

We can learn about using coloured light to create a mood

Using coloured gels to create a mood - Photography Inspiration

Learn about putting friends in awkward poses to create an image

Photography Inspiration


I do know the importance of inspiration when you learn photography but please don't go setting fire to people's houses in the quest for a good photograph.    

And There Will Be Blood

Note:The images in this article have been taken from an article that originally appeared on Buzzfeed and was titled 129 of The Most Beautiful shots in Movie History by Daniel Dalton. Take a look at the original article if you want to see all the 129 frames. Clicking on any of the images will take you to the original article as well.

Please leave a comment below as to where do you get stuck and what would you like to see in the next part of our Photography Inspiration series and please don't forget to share this article with your friends if you liked it.

 Learn photography now: 


You can learn photography by subscribing to the GMax Studios YouTube channel. We really have some great videos there.

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