Two ways to shoot star trails

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 11:24pm

Last weekend a couple of us from the camera club went down to Wilsons Promontory. Apart from shooting landscapes of the coastlines and beaches, the sunset from Whisky Bay, we also shot some star trails.

The first method I tried was new to me: shoot a number of 30 second exposures and then combine them later using software.

With my camera in continuous shooting and set at 17mm, f/4, 30 seconds and ISO1600 I locked down the shutter button on my cable release and left the camera alone for a while. By locking down the button (and having long exposure noise reduction off) the camera would keep going until I stopped it, the battery went flat or the card filled up.

My third attempt of the night resulted in 70 images, which when run through the Startrails application gave me this:

Tidal River star trails (70 x 30 seconds)

If you look closely you can see that the trails are not smooth lines, and that I should have been able to setup the camera better.

A bit later in the night we moved down to Tidal River itself where I switched back to the traditional single long exposure. I took two shots (this time at ISO100), one for 10 minutes and another for 17 minutes. This is the 17 minute one:

Tidal River star trails (17 minutes)

As I was doing such a long exposure I turned the noise reduction back on. Which meant that this 17 minute exposure needed a second 17 minute exposure. Coincidentally a total time of 35 minutes, the same as 70 x 30 seconds.

Next time I’m shooting star trails, I am going to go with the multiple exposures.

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