(son of) Bristlecone Pine Star Circle

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    I'm proud! The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England had this photo listed as "Our Latest Favourites" for quite a while. It's one of my favorites, too! In fact if I were forced to pick a favorite this is probably the top of the list because it was the first and in some ways most successful of my star trail shoots.

    If you're wondering what you're looking at... it is 19 8-minute exposures - a total of 2 hours and 32 minutes worth of total time. The streaks in the sky are stars.

    This is a reprocessing of the same image stack used for the "Bristlecone Pine Star Circle" (which see as lots of image details are there). This was created from 19 images each an 8 minute exposure totaling 2 hours, 32 minutes.

    What is different? I was preparing to give a short lecture on how I do star trails, so I walked through the steps again with the following changes:

    1. I first increased the raw exposures of all 19 images by 1 f-stop in Digital Photo Professional and bumped up the saturation (increasing the exposure always reduces the color saturation).
    2. I then exported all 19 images and used Startrails.exe to stack them, but this time I started by averaging all 19 images before doing the stacking operation.
    3. I applied a "digital" gray gradiant to the sky to bring it down in brightness a bit using Picsasa3 (it's called a "Graduated Tint" in the Effects tab).
    4. I added a new copyright.

    While this image has about 3 or four hot pixels, it appears that the averaging operation cleaned the image up quite a lot.

    The shots were taken from 10:53 pm until 1:18 am on October 7/8, 2008. As I noted, for further details see the original image.

    To see this larger click here.

    Want to purchase a print or framed version of this? It is featured exclusively at Mountain and Sea Gallery Use the "Contact Us" link on that site.

    My thanks to Kip Evans for making this available - and to you for your interest!

    © Copyright 2009, Steven Christenson
    All rights of print, exhibition, transfer, use, publication are reserved.

    hey_mando, Muchilu, Bob Kent, and 82 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 14 more comments

    1. Green Silhouette 52 months ago | reply


      Son is definitely the better one. I'll need a copy of this one too.. The "father" still hangs in my office :))

      Happy new year..

      - Green Silhouette

    2. Graham Wyatt 52 months ago | reply

      Amazing! Thanks for explaining all that!

    3. ~Jimish~ 52 months ago | reply

      What a fantastic shot !!!! Just brilliant !!!

    4. Atemporal Drift [deleted] 50 months ago | reply

      It certainly is a favourite, now of mine too. :-)

    5. stefano_durdy 50 months ago | reply

      che meraviglia !!!
      immagine spettacolare

    6. DM Weber 44 months ago | reply

      Ok, so this is fabulous. I see that I am compelled to make you a contact too (my bad for not doing this sooner). When we goin to Sentinel dome to shoot that tree with star trails? I think it will work since I'm pretty sure it's a northern view.

    7. Shammer9 44 months ago | reply

      So spectacularly surreal. I was just wondering how far north is too far north in your opinion? And also, have u (or anyone u know) ever used a fisheye for star trails?

    8. a02toyota 43 months ago | reply

      Like the light painted version the best...the interesting tree in the foreground comes alive!

      I will be traveling through Yellowstone sometime soon, and the multi-shot star trails are one my mind.

    9. Steven Christenson 43 months ago | reply

      Sorry helter... didn't see your question. I think you're asking "how far north can I travel and get a good shot?" My answer would be: the North Pole. Of course there you'll need to shoot almost straight up so you'll want to find something of interest nearby. A 180 degree fisheye from the North Pole would be really cool. Only downside to the fisheye is the trails get small and slender.

      Another interesting shot would be a 180 fisheye at the equator... you'd get semi circles on each side and vertical stripes overhead. That would be cool!

    10. Shammer9 43 months ago | reply

      :-0 gadzooks, would it ever...

    11. Shammer9 43 months ago | reply

      Or imagine you had 2 identical cameras right beside each other on ther same setting then your subject could be viewd in 3D!!! stereoscope style. perhaps some LED orbs in there. woah, Lookout!

    12. remo@b'lore 42 months ago | reply

      beautiful image!!

    13. Priyal Mahendre | Sri Lanka 40 months ago | reply

      I was searching for good star trail photos and found some wonderful work done by you. Appreciate if you can tell me whether we can identify the position of Milky Way in a given date at a given location.
      What I exactly need is to identify a day and time where the milky way would be in a lower position so as to shoot it with a subject in the ground

    14. Steven Christenson 40 months ago | reply

      Priyal there are many good programs - many free for plotting the night sky by date and time. I mention Starmap in my BLOG - it's a $12 iPhone application, but Stellarium and many others are useful and free. The Milky Way stretches across a large expanse of sky (as is visible in this shot) or in my own
      Path of the Milky Way West-to-East [C_009575-82stitch]

      The Milky Way stretches from Cassiopeia to Scorpio which is at the top of the photo above. Near Sagittarius the Milky Way is the densest, so when Sagittarius is low in the east or west - and there is no or very little moon - is your best opportunity. After sunset look to the west in late September or early October. It is visible all summer (in the northern hemisphere). It's just a matter of how late you want to stay up.

    15. Priyal Mahendre | Sri Lanka 40 months ago | reply

      Thank you Steven. I found your blog where I could see lot of interesting topics there. again thank you very much for the support..

    16. MurrayH77 34 months ago | reply

      Yes, this (son) photo is a little bit snappier.

    17. Steven Christenson 33 months ago | reply

      Sorry, but I don't accept badges/photos in my stream.

    18. swazileigh (on/off/on/off) 17 months ago | reply

      thank you very much for sharing your knowledge about Night/Star photography!!! I am going to study it and try to do some Star trails soon ;-)

      THANKS AGAIN!!!! :D

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