OK there is allot of description that goes on with this image. First the details, this is a stacked and heavily manipulated image of 89 individual images taken at 20 second intervals. The location is looking Northwest over lake Tahoe a few days before the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower. The images were taken approx around 3am because I had to wait till then for the nearly full moon to drop over the western horizon before I could really start to see the star field.
I really wanted to do something different than I had ever seen before. If you see the images below this will give you examples of how I got to this final image. The first image below is a purely stacked image of all 89 individual pictures taken. As you can see, I was so high up in the sierras and my direction of shooting was able to capture the Milky Way. As an individual image this was OK, but as you stacked them to make star trails, there were so many points of light that it literally overpowered the image. I also was fortunate to have captures a few early asteroid streaks this evening and they were completely lost in this image.
So what to do. I went in and heavily adjusted each image to reduce the smaller points of light within each image so that there were only the brighter stars in the field. I recombined them and created a much more detailed and finer star trail image. I then took one of my single images and pushed up the light to bring out each and every point of light and overlaid the star field onto this image. as you can see within each "streak" there is a single point of light on or very near a line. These are the individual stars that show up as brighter points because they were not toned down like they were for the star trail. You will also see that there are many points of light throughout the image that have no trails associated. These are the stars that were removed for the star trails but were added back in to create what I was looking for which was the depth of the cosmos that I wanted the image to have. I also found the individual frames that has the meteor streaks in them and applied them finally over the top of the image so that they would show up more.
The tree in the foreground was lit up occasionally by passing cars on the road up and behind me. I also had an image with the water and light streaks that werer more visible in the water.
The one striking image I discovered during the whole process was while taking the pictures toward the end of the series was this incredible and VERY bright slow moving light that showed up in the right side of the picture. I have seen many satellites that move across the sky and in my long exposure images and this was hundreds of times brighter! It was NOT an airplane because there was no flashing intervals from the strobes that normally accompany those images. The only time I have ever seen something this bright was when I once saw the ISS. the international space station pass over my house. I bet that if I were able to work backward I could find that at this date and time and location...with the near full moon setting that this is what that image was.
Anyways, this was a real piece of work to get it to where it is. I hope you enjoy it and that you were able to get out and see the night sky this week!