Star Trails

I’ve wanted to take some star photos for a while now.  I’ve either been too busy (or tired) to get out at night, it’s been cloudy, or the moon was too bright.  I finally had my window of opportunity and I was pleased with the results!

My goal was to take a picture that showed the trails of stars as they moved across the night sky.  I had a location scouted out, just off my favorite hike/jog road near my house.  It’s facing north, away from the big city lights, and the Wenatchee River below me.  It was 11 PM and I was ready.

Here is what you need to take star trail photos:

  • Camera with manual settings and a fairly large aperture.
  • A sturdy tripod
  • Shutter release remote
  • Lot’s of TIME!

Optional:

  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Rocks or weight bags

 

It was fairly windy that night so my first step was to secure my tripod.  I tied up the shoulder strap to reduce vibrations from it waving in the wind (duct tape would have been preferable), and then found some rocks to prop up against the tripod for added support.  Nice tripods have hooks underneath to hang weighted bags… someday… but my rocks worked just fine.

Next is when you start taking photos.  I read that at minimum, your photos should span close to 30 minutes of time.  So at 30 second exposures I figured I would take roughly 50 photos. Close enough at least.

The final step is done in Photoshop.  Open all the photos as layers.  Then using the blending option to merge with the Lighten blending mode.  This takes all the highlights of the photos and allows them to show through the layers.  If anyone wants to give it a try I can wright out another post with the detailed steps.

Here are the results:

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This is looking at Burch Mountain in Wenatchee WA, with the Sunnyslope neighborhood below it.
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This is looking west up the Wenatchee River.  I was lucky enough to capture a train passing through.

Let me know what you think.

Get Off Auto!

-joshua

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2 thoughts on “Star Trails

  1. Shelly Hoffman

    These are awesome pictures. I never knew that a person could create a photo like these. To me they look like a painting, with such vivid and intense color. Very impressive. Ever thought of teaching a class?

    Like

    1. Joshuography

      Hi Shelly – thank you very much. I was surprised at all the different colors of the stars. I took an astronomy class in school but didn’t realize that the colors are so vivid until I took this picture. I do photography basics classes and would love to do a night/long exposure class also. Let me know if you are interested.

      Like

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