Tutorial Photography Guide: Star Trails

MWHCVT

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#1
MWHCVT submitted a new resource:

Photography Guide: Star Trails - Photography Guide: Star Trails

A Guide to Star Trails

Okay...A short introduction to star trails and myself. As a photographer my love has always been night time photography with a particular love for long exposures, you can see my guide to light trails HERE I love being outside with my camera at night getting creative with all forms of light...

So what is a star trail...A star trail is a photograph that is taken over a long period of time,...
Read more about this resource...
 
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#3
Hiya Matt,

Thanks for putting this guide together .... it is great (y)

I'm currently hooked on star trails ... so this guide has come in very useful. I've taken a few star trails over the past few days which I have put on my Flickr. I'm going camping this weekend .... so hopefully will get more :D

Cheers

Dawn :)
 
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#4
Just Dave said:
Brilliant guide Matt thanks or putting it together :clap:
Thanks Dave, cheers for giving it a check over for me (y)

drodd said:
Hiya Matt,

Thanks for putting this guide together .... it is great (y)

I'm currently hooked on star trails ... so this guide has come in very useful. I've taken a few star trails over the past few days which I have put on my Flickr. I'm going camping this weekend .... so hopefully will get more :D

Cheers

Dawn :)
:clap: glad your enjoying the art of the star trail Dawn :D I'm off out tonight to a nice location (y)

Matt
 
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#6
Thanks for the guide Matt, just got to get my leg sorted then away I go.
Let's hope it's sorted soon (y) and no problem, if I have some knowledge I can pass on then I'll always try :D

Matt
 
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#7
Hey, thought id finally have a looksie at the guide!, great job.....And yes people check, double check even triple check your focus!!!!!!
As i know first hand how peeved off i was after 3 hours to find i had a useless blur of a picture!:banghead:
 
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#9
Thedodo said:
Hey, thought id finally have a looksie at the guide!, great job.....And yes people check, double check even triple check your focus!!!!!!
As i know first hand how peeved off i was after 3 hours to find i had a useless blur of a picture!:banghead:
:D ain't that the truth mate :LOL:

parker455 said:
Absolutley fantastic guide, i'll be giving them a shot next half term when i've got some time off!
(y) I look forward to seeing the results :D remember if you have any questions please ask :D

Matt
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#10
Nice tutorial, Matt. Very clearly written and quite inspirational.

I have a question though, having previously dabbled but finding it quite frustrating. (My effort, with an account of my trials and tribulations, is here).

The things that bothers me is exposure. In your tutorial you say:
The Kenilworth photo is made up of 245 x 30 second exposures, at f/4 and ISO800, but you should never worry about your settings too much as each situation will always need slightly different settings, it's all about trial and error to get the settings you need.
But I'm really not sure about how to do this trial-and-error stuff. I mean, stars are essentially little white points of light. How do you determine what exposure to give them? What criteria do you use to judge whether the exposure is "right"?
 
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#11
StewartR said:
Nice tutorial, Matt. Very clearly written and quite inspirational.

I have a question though, having previously dabbled but finding it quite frustrating. (My effort, with an account of my trials and tribulations, is here).

The things that bothers me is exposure. In your tutorial you say:

But I'm really not sure about how to do this trial-and-error stuff. I mean, stars are essentially little white points of light. How do you determine what exposure to give them? What criteria do you use to judge whether the exposure is "right"?
Thank you, basically I use an aperture as wide as I can achieve on my wide lens so that will usually mean f/4 four me :) then I expose for my foreground interest, so I'll try for a 30 second exposure as this will result on the smallest number of exposures and it's about finding the balance between a nice high ISO usually 400-800 for me exposure time it's usually about 5 minutes work I start with 2-3 exposure wide open, max ISO for 60 seconds to make sure I'm happy with my focus and composition, this is followed with a series of 30 second exposures till I get a nice sky and ground exposure then set that as my exposure and off we go (y) if there is a lot of light pollution I will drop my exposure time rather than ISO as you need the higher ISO to pick up the duller stars

Hope this helps but feel free to ask as many questions as you want (y)

Matt
 
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#14
A great tutorial, its something i want to attempt and reading this helps alot ! Thanks :D
Very useful info, thankyou :)

Ive got a couple of ideas that I want to try once I have found a suitable location and a nice clear night.
I'm pleased that you've found it to be a useful guide and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask (y)

Matt
 
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#15
Brilliant piece of tutorial. Definitely I am gonna try this out.
 
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#17
Great guide :) Going to give it a go tonight! Possibly a silly question, but how do you determine the length the exposures should be? Are you aiming for an exposure that is correct for what you want to capture or always 30 seconds?
 
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#18
Great guide :) Going to give it a go tonight! Possibly a silly question, but how do you determine the length the exposures should be? Are you aiming for an exposure that is correct for what you want to capture or always 30 seconds?
It's all a bit of a balancing in act, ideally I aim to get 30 seconds as it cuts down the number of exposures etc, but if there is a lot of light I reduce the length of the exposure a little to compensate, with this type of thing I would rather keep say ISO800 and come down to a 20 second exposure than keep a 30 second exposure and drop to ISO400 as you have to remember most stars are not that bright so you need to be able to pick them up (y)

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Thanks for the quick reply :) I'll have a play later, wish me luck!
It's all a bit of a balancing in act, ideally I aim to get 30 seconds as it cuts down the number of exposures etc, but if there is a lot of light I reduce the length of the exposure a little to compensate, with this type of thing I would rather keep say ISO800 and come down to a 20 second exposure than keep a 30 second exposure and drop to ISO400 as you have to remember most stars are not that bright so you need to be able to pick them up (y)

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#20
Thanks for the quick reply :) I'll have a play later, wish me luck!
No worries, I'm sure that you will do well (y) and don't forget to post the results in the new creative section on the forums (y)

Matt
 
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#21
I have a question - will each one of those single exposures be very dark? (foreground especially).
Could you post a sample of one of those 245 30sec exposures that you took?
 
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#22
I have a question - will each one of those single exposures be very dark? (foreground especially).
Could you post a sample of one of those 245 30sec exposures that you took?
No each exposure should not be really dark each should be exposed correctly as if your foreground is dark in all of them then it will still be dark in the final image :D don't worry overly about the exposure of the foreground being light in all of them as this will show the way it layers will not cause the over exposure, if you were to be doing light painting it's important not to light paint in the same area as this will cause that area to over expose (y)

But as requested here is a single exposure from the castle startrail :D


30 Second Exposure Example by mwhcvt, on Flickr

I hope that this helps but please ask any questions that you have (y)

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#25
Well, I tried this last night - pretty cloudless night, but I didn't account for the high humidity (84%). After 20 minutes, my lens was all 'fogged up'. Fortunately, it's dried out well.

I got about 2 decent exposures, but not nearly enough for star trails...
 
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#26
aeronic said:
Well, I tried this last night - pretty cloudless night, but I didn't account for the high humidity (84%). After 20 minutes, my lens was all 'fogged up'. Fortunately, it's dried out well.

I got about 2 decent exposures, but not nearly enough for star trails...
I've fallen foul of that myself an I'm still working on a solution :banghead: though a thing I've found is to consider where you stand in relation to the camera and wind direction as a lot of the issues I've had related to the heat I've exhaled fogging the lens :banghead: so a tip I can give is wait down wind of your camera :D but I'm not sure this is always a 100% solution to the fogging issue :thinking:

Matt
 
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Hmm, I hadn't thought of that being the issue - I was thinking it was more to do with the ambient humidity. It was probably made worse by being only 1m from the house (all the lights out btw). I'll try at the end of the garden next time, but I'm waiting for a night with less humidity anyway.
 
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#28
What a fantastic guide (y) the whole reason for being here was to find out about this stuff and the first post I find is this.....and wait..what's this.....a guide for light trails too lol :LOL: it gets better and better.

Looking forward to trial and error nights with my thermos :D
 
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#29
Frosty11 said:
What a fantastic guide (y) the whole reason for being here was to find out about this stuff and the first post I find is this.....and wait..what's this.....a guide for light trails too lol :LOL: it gets better and better.

Looking forward to trial and error nights with my thermos :D
I'm pleased that you like both my guides they are written to be of use to both those new to photography and those that having been doing it for a while (y) though if ever you have a question please don't hesitate to post it (y) and that goes to any question you ask on TP as the only stupid question is the one not asked (y)

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#30
One question is based on the pic of the bridge. You mention you've taken a number of single exposures and them stacked them. Has each exposure been for a different color and what have you used to stack them?

I really want to get it to light painting. I know I can use a torch, but like the idea of a flash and different gels. Can you recommend a flash?
 
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#31
Frosty11 said:
One question is based on the pic of the bridge. You mention you've taken a number of single exposures and them stacked them. Has each exposure been for a different color and what have you used to stack them?

I really want to get it to light painting. I know I can use a torch, but like the idea of a flash and different gels. Can you recommend a flash?
All my startrails are made up of multiple shorter exposures :D basically I take a number of shorter exposures and layer them one on top of the next

I currently use startrail.de software which is free to download, though I'm trailing out starstax software again free software, both of which are covered in the guide :D

As to a flash I use a Canon 430EX2 this is brilliant for light painting, but my main reason for selecting this flash is because I do a lot of photography using flash so I needed it to work well with my camera :D in theory if you only want the flash to use for light painting it doesn't really matter what flash gun it is so long as you hand control the power of it and fire it manually like I do it the pilot button (y) don't discount using a torch though as I often use torches in light painting (y)

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#32
I'm looking at Starstax at the mo because it supports MAC, but not RAW so I'll look for a plugin. Because of the amount of exposures do you shoot in JPEG or RAW?
 
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#33
Frosty11 said:
I'm looking at Starstax at the mo because it supports MAC, but not RAW so I'll look for a plugin. Because of the amount of exposures do you shoot in JPEG or RAW?
For this type of photo, I shoot JPEG (y) get it right in camera :D I don't actually use RAW all that often even though I often shoot RAW and JPEG :D
 
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#34
I just tried doing some shots in the garden and it all worked ok except for my remote release...I set the shutter to 30" and locked the button, so it took one pic then stopped. It seems the lock setting doesn't tell it to continue taking pictures. So what am I doing wrong? :) thanks in advance
 
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#35
sturisoma said:
I just tried doing some shots in the garden and it all worked ok except for my remote release...I set the shutter to 30" and locked the button, so it took one pic then stopped. It seems the lock setting doesn't tell it to continue taking pictures. So what am I doing wrong? :) thanks in advance
Do you have your camera setto one shot or continuous shooting, this is something that having you ask the question has made me realise I forgot it in the original guide, will add it later, you need to set the camera to continuous/multi shot (y) sorry

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#36
lol yeah duh - I did have it on continuous but set it to one shot for something else ha ha, happy it's a simple fix *dances*

just need to work out how to turn the screen off cos even on dim it's quite bright

thanks Matt

PS I put some car trails in my 'inspired by you' thread :)
 
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#37
Great guide matt and one I'll come back to to read over again when I get a chance to do some trails. Been thinking about how to do it lately so this has whet my appetite :)
 
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#38
Great guide matt and one I'll come back to to read over again when I get a chance to do some trails. Been thinking about how to do it lately so this has whet my appetite :)
Well Pat, you literally just down the road from me so if you ever fancy joining me on a light trail you'll be made more than welcome (y)

Matt
 
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#40
Do you do any prosessing to the images before or after they are stacked?
I set white balance and everything like that in camera from some test frames, so I don't really do all that much PP on images they normally go straight from the camera to the stacking software, then once out of the stacking software, I'll then treat the stacked image like any other photo and apply any sharpening and clone out things like planes and other objects (y) I hope that helps

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