Saturday, April 13, 2013

Star Trails!

My first attempt at a star trail picture
I'm very pleased with this end product. It wasn't terribly difficult to produce either.

Erin sent me the guide here a while back: http://www.jamesvernacotola.com/Resources/How-To-Photograph-Star-Trails. It's a great introduction to what it takes to shoot a star trail. I've had it in the back of my mind that this is something I'd like to try and tonight presented a decent opportunity. I had originally set out to photograph the (waxing) crescent moon. I failed miserably there, but the star trails are a nice consolation I think.

Equipment used:

  • Canon EOS 6d camera
  • Canon 24-105 f4 lens
  • Cheap tripod
  • Vello Wireless ShutterBoss

Here's what I did:

  1. Setup the camera on the tripod
  2. Framed my shot
  3. Fired off a few test shots to try to get the exposure reasonable. I had to balance a pretty bright neighborhood with still trying to get a significant number of stars showing up. Luckily I managed to hide the worst offender (a street light) behind the tree. I finally settled on 24mm, f5.6, 30s, ISO 400.
  4. Set the camera to bulb mode, with the settings I settled on above dialed in.
  5. Set the intervalometer to continuously fire off 30s frames. I ended up with 120 frames, exactly 1 hour's worth.
  6. Load all the frames into Lightroom. I adjusted the white balance, cropped out the little bit of my house that I had in the top right corner (oops) and darkened the overall scene by 1 stop of exposure (the houses and tree were much too bright. I then synced those to all of the frames.
  7. Exported the frames and loaded them into Startrails.
  8. Made the star trails image using Lighten-Screen-Blend mode.
  9. Then made a time lapse video. I tried to set the resolution higher, but it just caused Startrails to crash, so I settled on 480 pixels wide. The default setting was for 15 frames per second, but I think that's a bit too fast for just 120 frames. I ended up using 5fps for the video below.

video
Around the 8 second mark, you can see where Erin and I were playing with the green laser pointer.

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