Star trails

Star trails photography tips

for photographing the night sky

Star trails photography is best for digital SLR cameras (DSLR type), but you can take pictures, using other devices, such as a simple compact camera (but with a manual setting option).

star trails landscape at night
landscape at night

It is important the camera should be able to open the shutter for a longer or even indefinite period.

A special choke or remote control will operate the device without touching by hands and thus avoiding vibrations.

Start shooting sky telescope and even … is not necessary;

Simple star trail photography comes from a tripod when shooting the sky.

Bright constellations will be able to capture using the shutter speed (exposure) to 30 seconds, leaving the shutter for a longer period of time to stretch stellar images on the Earth’s rotation.

Without using a telescope you can take pictures of not only of the stars but also of silver clouds, northern lights, sky glow after sunset or before sunrise, beautiful images you will get if photography visible in buildings or trees silhouettes.

If the camera is directed to the North Star and the sky, take several hours to produce beautiful arc-shaped star tracks (gallops), but this way, it is more comfortable to shoot with old film cameras, because of the extremely long exposure digital camera shots appear much noise and hot spots.

The advantage of a digital camera to film camera is also an opportunity to process the frames, put a few pictures of the same object (stack), or combine multiple photos into one if the object is large and does not fit into a single frame (panorama).

Stars of photography lovers dream – special cameras, are intended, for astrophotography, but, unfortunately, as far as I know, there are not a lot of choices.
Special cameras to photograph the stars

Canon 20da launched in 2005

star trails canon 20da
canon 20 da

Canon EOS 60da launched in 2012

star trails canon eos 60da
canon eos 60da

Another way to remove the protective filter of the camera’s sensor.

Best to take pictures in RAW and not JPG format, in this case, images will be more flexible to modify, reduce noise, combine frames.

Do not forget to recharge the battery, take the additional if you can. You will need a fully charged battery.

Stacking star trails software

Star trails- from download from official website

Combine ZP– download from official website

Adobe Photoshop
Follow these steps:
File- Automate load images into a stack
Select all layers – convert to smart object
Go to Layers – smart objects – stack mode lighten.

Gimp- download from official website
Follow these steps:
Open the first image
File open as layers
Change layer mode from normal to lighten.

There are two ways to shoot stars

One of them is used as a long shutter speed, say 30 minutes, and the corresponding ISO (ISO low noise to a minimum). This requires BULB mode.

Another way is to shoot a series of short exposure of 30 seconds, for example, it would be far less noise, afterward combine pictures in the program. For the starlight reflectance, you get the same movement, it is necessary to turn off the noise reduction feature.
In all cases, the camera has to stand stable and not moved during the shooting process. Aperture, best to use the one that gives the sharpest image at the focal length. Focus to infinity or closer to an object, which enters the frame. Minimize the millimeter smaller effect visible in the picture, in other words with less millimeters require a longer exposure (comparing frame sizes line will be the same but for different viewing angle seems to be fewer moves).

How to calculate correct exposure for star photography

Regardless of whether try a shoot with a full-frame or crop sensor. An important point in this process is properly caliculate the exposure. That shooting would take as long as possible, but not more than the stars in moving from their seats. (I say more in the sense that over a period of time to be picked off more light. This is conceived formula:
600 units divided by the focal length of the lens.
For example, if you take pictures with a 50 mm lens. 600 divide by 50 = 12, shutter speed 12 seconds, it is for a full-frame camera.
If shooting with a crop sensor. Let’s say, Nikon, such a matrix through the ratio of 1.5, is the lens focal length is multiplied by 1.5 and divide by 600 obtained result. If it is the same 50 mm lens is 50 x 1.5 = 75, 600 units from 75 = 8… Shutter speed of 8 seconds.

star trails at park
star trails at the park

Best lens for star trails photography

Star trails photography is relative to night photography and landscape photography, I suggest using a wide-angle lens. We are trying to capture a wide frame, not one specific object (like the moon for example).

What is the best time for shooting stars?

Favorable weather- bright sky with no clouds, the moon is not risen, especially for the winter. You can, however, any season, it is best when it is cold. The truth is, in order to capture the stars, it is necessary to go beyond the city, do not interfere with the various light.

One more tip. If you will capture images in sequence, try to set time compatible for time-lapse. Thus, shoot two birds with one shot- make a nice star trails photo and star trails video. Tutorial How to make time lapse using DSLR.

Thanks for your visit, you are one step further, to become the photo geek 🙂

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