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Thread: Star Trails

  1. #1
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Star Trails

    Bit of advice.

    Off out tonight (if the sky is clear) to have a go at star trail photography. Done the usual Google search and from what I can tell its best to shoot continuous 30 second exposures and stack them.

    Anyone here had a go and have any tips.

    Robin

  2. #2
    Nass's Avatar
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    Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel

  3. #3
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    Re: Star Trails

    Brilliant - thanks.

    Looks like it is going to be clear in Northumberland so heading to Kielder (darkest place in the UK) to have a go.

    Stacking 30 second exposures seems to be the way to go which will be a cinch to shoot with the D300s - think (fingers crossed) I can get hold of a AF-S 14-24mm f2.8 lens for tonight which will be awesome as its dead sharp right from wide open.
    Don't have anything to warm the lens, I've read they condense after a while, so we'll just have to see what happens. The camera is in the car now cooling down which might help.

    Whatever I get I'll post for you to have a (look) laugh at.

  4. #4
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    Re: Star Trails

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    Don't have anything to warm the lens, I've read they condense after a while, so we'll just have to see what happens. The camera is in the car now cooling down which might help.
    Whatever I get I'll post for you to have a (look) laugh at.
    Robin: Oh yes, you most likely do....

    Do you have a blow dryer for hair? Most homes have at least one, or, if you have daughters
    they'll be half a dozen of them.

    Simply set the dryer on low or med speed and gently wave it as the warm air blows across
    the lens. It will be dry in a moment or two, and you can carry on for another long while before
    the issues return. Just don't get in front of the lens while it is taking an exposure...

    Works like a champ. I've used one for years, and know of many amateur astronomers in highly
    humid climates that use them nightly. The alternative are "dew zappers", which are a PITA with
    all the straps and cables.

    Another option is to set a small electric space heater on the ground a meter or so from the front
    of your tripod, and set it to run while you image. The idea is to keep the air around the
    scope/camera just a couple of degrees warmer than the ambient temp., which will greatly
    slow the condensation effect, or stop it entirely. Don't wait until the lens is wet to do this.

    Also, if you've been out in that moist air be sure to leave the caps off your lenses and the
    camera out for a while once you go back in the house. That way the the camera can return
    to room temperature, and to allow any moisture inside to naturally evaporate. Just set it
    someplace with a mild warm air current (not on the heater!), and then it can naturally warm
    up while clearing any moisture out of itself.



    Mike
    Last edited by Dizzy; 21st September 2011 at 05:32 PM.

  5. #5
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails

    I'm heading out to a reservoir in the middle of nowhere to get completely black skies so even if I did have a hair dryer there'd be no power.

    It is the darkest spot in the whole of the UK - theres an observatory their for that exact reason - so there will be no light spill.

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    Re: Star Trails

    Good luck Robin I lookforward to seeing your shots.

  7. #7
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    Re: Star Trails

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    I'm heading out to a reservoir in the middle of nowhere to get completely black skies so even if I did have a hair dryer there'd be no power.
    It is the darkest spot in the whole of the UK - theres an observatory their for that exact reason - so there will be no light spill.
    Hi Robin,

    Might not help for this trip, but at 13.95 for a 12V unit that will plug right into the
    cigarette lighter hole, it is a low cost and very efficient tool to toss in the bag.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/HEAVY-DUTY-H.../dp/B0046ZAL3Q

    Wishing you the best of luck out there in the dark skies, and looking forward to
    seeing the images..

    Mike

  8. #8
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails

    Very quick and dirty edit but I did make it there and back - a round trip of about 120 miles through tiny country roads in the pitch dark - and I have pictures to prove it. Not many mind when each exposure was over half a hour.

    Star Trails

  9. #9
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails

    Way cool image Robin!! Star Trails

    Could you share how you put all that together? What star did you center on? I would love
    to try my hand at taking one, but likely couldn't get anywhere near as nice of a photo.

    Mike

  10. #10
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    Re: Star Trails

    Hi Mike, based on the thread Startrail ISO reference, 9th post, it would have to be the North Star in the center as all the other stars in the northern hemisphere rotate around it as seen from earth. That thread has lots of good stuff for doing these kind of star trails. Star Trails

  11. #11
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Mike, based on the thread Startrail ISO reference, 9th post, it would have to be the North Star in the center as all the other stars in the northern hemisphere rotate around it as seen from earth. That thread has lots of good stuff for doing these kind of star trails. Star Trails
    I had presumed it was Polaris, but it never hurts to ask. Thanks for the link..

  12. #12
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    Re: Star Trails

    I had some fun with my canon 400D and Tamron 18x270mm lens here in Arizona, USA. I had a small 12V battery running thru a 110V converter and then the Canon ACK-DC20 110V converter pluged into my camera so I had power for hours worth of shooting. This shot was 61 minutes @F5 30mm with the north star the center star, all the other stars rotating around it. I thought picking this spot with the round boulder on a rock formation was kinnda neat. Taken at 9:43pm. (ISO 100)
    Star Trails

  13. #13
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails

    It was a good laugh - cold, windy and pitch black but fun to try.
    Didn't go with the multiple 30 second exposures as the test shots looked too dark to trust a decent result, might try next time, so just went with what I thought would be about right.

    The old 'suckitandsee' gave me the above shot - 30 minutes/f5.6/400iso.
    No idea what the star is called at the centre but it was pointing north as I just about got a solid compass reading from my iPhone 4. Actually it proved dead cool as the Star Finder app got a GPS signal and worked.

    Going to go back in a week or two and try to find a location with some foreground interest.

  14. #14
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    Re: Star Trails

    Looks like everyone is having fun with star trails. Great stuff

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