Shooting Star Trails

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Hey guys, I’m back with another blog post. This time I was out shooting star trails. I’ll try to cover all stuff you need for this type of shoots, write down some of my experience and maybe even post a video. So let’s go.

Equipement

First of all you need a camera with BULB function. This will enable you to keep a shutter opened as long as needed, even more than 30 seconds. Im sure all Canon and Nikon DSLRs have this function, if you’re shooting Olympus, Sony or anything else, just check out your manual if you aren’t sure. Next piece you’ll need is a cable release with shutter button lock. It will minimalize camera shake from pressing the button and thanks to shutter lock you don’t have to be holding the actual button for 10 minutes or even more. And the last part of equipement is a good tripod. These three things are essencial.

The Rule of 600

This is quite general rule in night photography. What does it mean/do? To get star trails, your shutter need to be opened for some time. And that time you’ll get by dividing number 600 by your focal length. And the result is in seconds. If you keep your shutter speed longer than the result, you will have trails in your shot. Of course, longer shutter stays opened, better results will be. This rule isn’t any dogma or carved in stone, just a helpful tip 😉

Shooting

Not much to say about this part. You need dark enviroment so getting this type of shot is almost impossible in city because light polution. Get out into country, find some great spot and wait for dark. BRING A FLASHLIGHT! It will keep you company 🙂 How long should your shutter stay opened? You have to test that out. Every place is different. Shoot in BULB mode, set your aperture as you need to and fire some test shots. Be sure to have your batteries fully charged up, these photos sucks them dry very quickly. With time you can take photos in matter of seconds but even minutes and more. Just watch the temperature. In hot climate sensor will heat up faster and might get damaged with very long exposures. Shooting in colder conditions is better because you’ll be able to get away with longer exposures.

Post processing

These types of photos need some post processing. First of all, shoot in RAW mode, it will give you most data to work with. First I was trying to double process an image, once for sky and once for foreground. Wasn’t a bad idea but blending those two together gave me a headache. And the result wasn’t as good as I wanted. Then I tried just Lightroom, used exposure, fill light and blacks to get great looking image. Corrected a bit white balance and gave few finishing touches. And here is the final result.

Spin, Baby, Spin!

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