lightroom cc

Milky Way & Aurora

A couple of weeks ago I went on a six-day road trip with Sami (@samiheiskanen) from Helsinki to Utsjoki to all the way up to Varanger, Norway. Even with over 4500 km's of driving we had an excellent photo journey there. 

For the final day in Norway, we had a chance to watch the Northern Lights dance over the clear sky near Vadsø. I captured this view from a nearby small river. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Manfrotto MT190CX Pro tripod. 
Two horizontal photographs ISO 6400, 30 sec., f/2.8 @ 14 mm 


I blended the two vertical images manually in Photoshop CC. If you wish to learn this blending technique go and see my ebook Star Photography Masterclass. After combining the images, I opened the final work in Lightroom and edited it with Saga Lightroom presets Star Landscape - Born and Split-Toning - Blues.  

Milky Way & Aurora - Vadsø, Norway - 2016

5 Steps to Boost Milky Way in Lightroom

Five steps how to boost stars and Milky Way in Lightroom. First you need a photograph captured in a dark situation pointing towards the Milky Way. Here is an example image captured in Yyteri, Finland. There are many things you need to know and consider before you can shoot these type of sceneries. You can learn these steps from my Star Photography Masterclass eBook: Learn The Secrets of Stunning Astrophotography. 





1. Overall Adjustments

For the editing, it's good to start with the Basic Settings. For this image, I used the following settings. Exposure +0,20, Contrast +20, Highlights -20, Shadows +11, Whites +26, Blacks -15 and Clarity +15. Experimenting with these settings is a good practice. 

2. Dehaze

This new tool introduced with the Adobe Lightroom CC 2015 version is a great quick fix if you want to boost the Milky Way. You can find it in the Effects Panel. I don't usually go too high with the settings because it tends to exaggerate the colors. For this image, I used +25. You can also use the Dehaze now only in part of your images with the Graduated Filters. This feature was introduced with the Lightroom CC 2015.2. 

3. Graduated Filter / Radial Filter

Use either Graduated (shortcut M) or Radial Filter (shortcut Shift+M) tool to boost the overall contrast and clarity in the stars. Most of the time I use the graduated filter and occasionally when the image has something in the sky I use the radial filter. Depending on the picture you can experiment with different settings, for this photo I used Exposure -0,1, Contrast +45, Blacks -15 and Clarity 40. Click and drag where you want the effect to be visible.  Here I went ahead and used both of these tools to give the Milky Way an extra boost. See the images for settings. And if you are working with the new version of Lightroom try the Dehaze function as well!

4. Adjustment Brush Tool

Use shortcut K, to open the Adjustment Brush tool. For the picture, I used Exposure +0,50 and clarity +50 at 20% flow to boost the brighter parts of Milky Way. Paint over the parts with a relatively big brush. Once satisfied with the result, let's take it even further by darkening the middle of the Milky Way Galaxy. Choose similar to these settings: Exposure -0,50 & Contrast +15.

5. Noise Reduction

For the final adjustment, I tend to add noise reduction. For the example image, I used the default settings and added Luminance: +15. 

Thanks for viewing! If you have suggestion for new tutorials, leave a comment below.


A night to remember in Mallorca, Spain. I was driving around the beautiful mountain roads Mallorca has to offer. It was a rainy evening, but I decided to go out anyway. As the clouds started to disappear behind the mountains I stopped the car and wanted to capture this view of road reflections of the water and Milky Way barely visible in behind the mountains in the horizon. This photograph was captured somewhere between Andratx and Lluc. I also included a before photo for you to view. 

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D800, Samyang 14 mm f/2.8, Sirui R-4203L tripod & K-40X
ISO 6400, f/2.8, 30 sec. @ 14 mm


Samyang Lens Profile for Nikon D700 found with Adobe Lens Profile Downloader (here)

I edited the image in Lightroom with Phase Presets Collection for the color and overall clarity and detail. If you have the Phase Presets Collection you can follow these steps:

  1. Lens profile correction
  2. Temperature: 3200 & Tint +22 (might vary depending on your image)
  3. Phase Preset: Night Subtle Detail
  4. Phase Overall Settings: Stars Contrasty
  5. Phase Effects: Vignette - Light
  6. Phase Graduated Filters: Stars - Foreground Noise Reduction & Clarity
  7. Final Adjustment: Noise Reduction - High ISO Med
  8. Export: Check my Night Photography Tutorial for more information about my export settings.

If you are interested in the Phase Collection, now on sale for limited time. You can find more information about the presets here

Apart - Mikko Lagerstedt, 2015, Mallorca

Apart - Before Lightroom Edit - See above

Apart - Before Lightroom Edit - See above