Star Trails

I’ve have loved start trail photos ever since a friend of mine introduced me to them just over a year ago and we tried to do some with out any idea on how to go about it. That was a funny trip trying to shoot start trails with a D40 and duck tape to hold the BULB mode on.

Well ever since then I’ve been meaning to try again and after seeing my same friend who is the most busy person I know managed to go do some I felt inspired and went out at the first opportunity to try again click hear for his site Colin Barker

Right on to the mini adventure that was that night. I decided to go to Great Malvern and take some shots from on top of the hill it seemed like the easiest place to get to with reduced light pollution.  Had planned to go with friends to help keep me awake thought the night but due to atmospheric conditions changing I had to set things forward 24hours leaving me on my own. I get to Malvern quite late with a heavy pack I had tried to take minimal gear but found I needed a quarter of what  took as is always my way. I try to climb the hill in the bitch black this was a fun nightmare my main torch died and my head torch began to fail making thins extra interesting. in the day with out any gear would take me 40 minuets from train station to the peek in this conditions it took me just under 2 hours but it was well worth it the hill that time of night looks breathtaking.

Took this photo with a tripod half way up the hill was pitch black where I was so I got a great view of the town with my supper zoom. I wouldn’t of seen this if I wasn’t so laden with gear and had to rest at the start of the main hills.

I finally make it to the summit its about 11pm no one is around and its windy as hell so I go in search of a spot with good shelter giving up on my original plan of where I was going to shoot on the hill I’d have frozen to half to death assuming the wind didn’t send the tripod flying. I eventually find a set of bushes in a dip as a perfect wind brake. I start to set up I put on my thermal clothing about 7 layers and get my sleeping bag out tripod ext only to find I’d forgotten one important item a compose to find north. With out it I was kind of at a loss astronomy was never my stung point so unable to find Polarise I had to improvise and shoot several star trails and looking at each one till I worked out where it was based on the swirls so tip remember campuses.

Now I get onto how I set my self up put my camera on a tripod with a battery grip as I needed the extra power due to the cold sapping the batteries life. connected a lockable cable release putting my camera in BULB mode and then set the camera with a timer alarm on my phone with me experimenting with different times I found 30 minuets worked best only problem I found was with Long exposure Noise reduction turned on how ever long the exposures lasted was how long the processing took. This limited how many shots I could get even fever. I forgot to change my white balance to Tungsten so I ended up having to change that in post but I always shoot RAW so this was not a problem. Another thing I found ISO 200 wasn’t enough for high definition of the stars but higher still I’d have had to much light pollution so this teaches me 2 things next time try a higher ISO and also find a place with even less light pollution.

All night I only got one good star trail the one above for my second atemt ever I’d say wasn’t to bad but I’ve a long way to go. During this perticuor exspousre I have a funny little story. I’d taken this exposures and was lay there in my sleeping back at 2am waiting for my alarm to tell me it was ready trying not to sleep. You guessed it I fell asleep in a dazed state I awake to a Now I get onto how I set my self up put my camera on a tripod with a battery grip as I needed the extra power due to the cold sapping the batteries life. connected a lockable cable release putting my camera in BULB mode and then set the camera with a timer alarm on my phone with me experimenting with different times I found 30 minuets worked best only problem I found was with Long exposure Noise reduction turned on how ever long the exposures lasted was how long the processing took. This limited how many shots I could get even fever. I forgot to change my white balance to Tungsten so I ended up having to change that in post but I always shoot RAW so this was not a problem. Another thing I found ISO 200 wasn’t enough for high definition of the stars but higher still I’d have had to much light pollution so this teaches me 2 things next time try a higher ISO and also find a place with even less light pollution

of a DOG above me it looked like a wolf I didn’t exactly panic I thought wild anime on no checked over my tripod is still there all is well but worried this anime might steal my food or nock over my gear so I shout witch comes out as a scream my half asleep stat. The dog looks at me like I’m mad and a moment latter a light over from the path goes on its a dog walker a 2am so I had a embarrassing conversation with the nice guy who I’m sure I freaked out but not something you expect that time of day I’m just lucky my gear was safe. After that I put my walk man on and stayed sat upright so I wouldn’t sleep again but just after he left my photo had finished processing and it was the best image by far of the night. I didn’t get any more usable images of stars that night but I did get a nice drawn photo. I’ll leave you with 3 tips

1 remember a compose

2 hove ever much gear you think you need you can always pack a little lighter

3 rap up warm I was freezing round 4 am and I had a silly number of layers

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