Instructables
Picture of How to Photograph Star Trails
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Capturing star trails is easy and, for me, very exciting. The best, and safest way for you to get these images is to stack many 30 second exposures into a single frame, rather than using the bulb mode of your camera.

Shooting in blub mode can cause sensor damage, especially in the duration required to capture these photos. By taking many exposures, you are allowing the sensor a little "break" between the shots, and keeping things from getting too abused...


Things you will need...

1. Digital Camera (SLR)

Must be capable of taking timed exposures. My camera is a Nikon D3000, with the 18-55 zoom lens that came with it.

2. Tripod

Needed to hold the camera still. You'll want one with a fully articulating head, so that you can point it at the stars. You'll also want good functioning legs, so that you can level the shot(s).

3. Software

Point your browser to the following link:

http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html

It's 100% free and totally awesome, because that's how German photographer/programmers roll.

4. Rubber Band

5. A Post-It Note
 
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Step 1: Make a button holder

You'll set your camera release mode for continuous shooting, so holding the button down will keep taking pictures. So, we will need a way to hold the button down for quite a while...

Enter the rubber band and the post-it note...

Fold your post it in thirds like so.

Then half again, like so.

Then half again, but this time, like this kind of so.

Now, get your roll on, and roll that little guy up.

And check for fit.

Now, rubber band that little fake finger in place.


Check and test your finger substitute with a faster shutter speed, so you don't have to wait 30 seconds before you know whether or not it's actually working. You should hear it clicking off photo after satisfying photo.



KatyL12 months ago

Someone has the solution for d3000 bulb mode remote control (win)? diybit doesn't work in bulb i tried all remote control softwares -__- just with ml 3 and temp modify on the hardware we can?

ty for this original solution! xD

remendab11 months ago
What is the blackframe for? (thanks)
mickeybob2 years ago
I have a D3000 as well and like to take star trails. The problem with the method you are using is that your camera will only let you take 100 shots in continuous without releasing and hitting the button again. If you download the program from DIYPhotoBits.com you can control your camera from your computer. This is how I do it so i can take more pictures and get longer trails. But it does require setting up a space for your laptop next to your camera outside, and if your battery life sucks like mine does an ac extension cord for the computer also. Here is one of my star trails that i took I think it was about 200 pictures
cory.smith (author)  mickeybob1 year ago
I've never encountered this, but I guess that's because I've not set up and shot for an hour. I'll give it a go and let you know what I come back with...

-Cory
yes there is, but is in german
how do you download the program??? When I go on the website there are no options to download.
astroboy9072 years ago
Sweet, there some good stars around here and my FZ100 has a 30sec exposure op. (unfortunately the 20sec photo option takes an exposure for 30sec and then processes it for 30 sec. think I can get way with 15?)
cory.smith (author)  astroboy9072 years ago
You might be able to get away with 15s, but you'll have to elevate your ISO to compensate. If you spot some bright stars, go ahead and shoot at them, as opposed to a deep area of sky.

With the brighter stars you might be able to get by with the 15s exposure.

Come what may, post up the image. I'd love to see it!

-Cory
mariodedios3 years ago
Is a very good way to solve the problem with the D3000. To solve the dew problem, you can use a hair dryer every 5 to 10 minutes.
About the program, you can use StarTrail for PC
http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html
and Helicon Focus for Mac
http://www.heliconsoft.com/focus_downloads.html
cory.smith (author)  mariodedios3 years ago
Thanks for a link to the Mac program. I've not got a Mac, so I've never looked for one. The PC program you link to is the one I mention in my instructable. Very straightforward program.
dfleming3 years ago
I have this camera, and Ive been meaning to do this kind of photography for a while, I have no tripod though.. any suggestions on what I could use to keep my camera upright (Safely) ?
cory.smith (author)  dfleming3 years ago
You will need a tripod, there is really no reliable way around it. You should be able to pick one up at a Walmart for less than or around $30. It will definitely come in handy.