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Thread: Star Trail pictures.....what is the best method???

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    30 miles south of Lubbock TX
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    Kris Harmon

    Star Trail pictures.....what is the best method???

    I haven't been on for a while and have been experimenting with some star trail pictures and they are horrible. What are some suggestions to getting good star trail pictures????

    KHarmon

  2. #2
    drjuice's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
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    Southern California
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    Virginia

    Re: Star Trail pictures.....what is the best method???

    Tripod! I can't believe people who'd do this with no tripod!

    Besides that, dark (NO streetlights, NO headlights within several miles); cloudless unless you're trying to catch star tracks between the clouds; remote control (preferred) or shutter release; possible house or vegetation if you want to light up something for foreground interest with your flash); total exposure 30 - 120 seconds (or more if you want really long curves); zoom as much as you like (and depending on the nearby something); f 2.8 or so, irrelevant if you don't have something to flash in the foreground.

    I usually go out to the end of Badwater in Death Valley on a cloudless night. Once I shot back over the Funeral Mountains from the Salt Creek Parking Lot about 4:30 in the morning in the middle of the dead of winter with excellent results because I got the moonshine on the face of the mountains (it was a full moon)

    Outdoor Photographer had a really good article on star tracking about 6-10 months ago written by a dude who'd been out in the Namibian Desert. It's on their website.

    v

  3. #3
    Tringa's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
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    Dave

    Re: Star Trail pictures.....what is the best method???

    Have a look at this free software

    http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html

    One of the drawbacks of taking a single long exposure is that unless you have a very dark sky, light pollution can be a problem. Sensors in digital camera seem to be very good at picking up light pollution.

    The rotation of the Earth means the stars move 15 degrees per hour so you will need a very long exposure to get long trails, unless you use a long lens to select a small portion of the sky, but that rather destroys the overall effect of star trail photos.

    I have heard, though I can't find any proof, that sensors may overheat if the exposure is very long so using the above software can help as it combines a number of short exposures. If your camera can be set to take photos at a set interval you can set it up and let it get on with it. Depending on the weather conditions you may need to check now and again for condensation on the lens.

    Other useful things are a torch (but be careful to keep it away from the camera) warm clothing, a warm drink and a chair.

    Dave

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