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Star Trails - #0141-0198 | by JimPriceDallas
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Star Trails - #0141-0198

My first attempt at taking a picture of star trails.

 

The technical info is:

58 thirty-second exposures about 62 seconds apart, each at ISO 200, F/4.0, 18mm. Images were stacked with StarTrails software.

 

After reading all the guides about how to do this, I got on-scene and then just plain forgot a few basic principles, so if you try it, please learn from my mistakes:

 

1. Turn OFF long-exposure noise reduction on your camera, and shoot continuously. Long-exposure noise reduction (on a Nikon) takes the same amount of time as the exposure, so you miss every other shot. Instead of shooting 30-second shots every 62 seconds (like I did), take 30-second shots every 32-33 seconds. This eliminates the gaps in the trails that you see in the outer edges of the image. Don't forget to get a noise reference shot (or two) with the lens cap on for the processing software to use.

 

2. Use a REALLY steady and stable tripod, and tighten ALL joints thoroughly. If your camera supports it, use mirror lockup. (Mine has mirror lockup for cleaning, but not for shooting.) Using mirror lockup will reduce vibration, and help keep your tripod and mount from slipping over the hour it takes to do this.

 

3. Choose an interesting foreground. Examine your scene during the daytime, and pick something really interesting. Swirly white lines on a background of blue are fun, but a truly stunning shot will have an interesting foreground. You may have trouble figuring this out at night when everything is black, so take a careful look during the daytime, and think about what you'll be shooting at night.

 

Also, get a couple of REALLY long exposure shots of the foreground. You may find them useful in processing the image.

  

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Taken on November 29, 2009