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Shooting Star Trails

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Have you ever seen a photograph where it looks like the stars revolve around a landscape or an object ?

You probably think that the photo is completely manipulated and is impossible to photograph this phenomenon.

Today I'm going to show you that is real and anyone can capture the movement of the stars (or the earth), although in some cases you do require the intervention of a software like Photoshop, its only function is to fuse the different images to complete the effect.

The trick is to find the North Star, as the earth revolves around the sun on an imaginary axis, which points north. Therefore if we point our camera at the North Star, we get a visual of the stars rotating around the earth, but really it is the earth that is spinning.
 
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Step 1: Gear

First, you will need the following

- Camera with "BULB" mode.
- Tripod.
- Remote or cable release.
- Optional: iOS or Android Application that allows finding the location of the pole star.
- Photoshop
- A lot of Patience.

Step 2: Find the right place

Picture of Find the right place
Brimham Rocks - 28.jpg
Brimham Rocks - 38.jpg
First, in order for your photograph to be successful, you have to plan it in advance. During the day, look for a place that is preferably away from the city, since we don't want any light pollution that can compromise our photo.
wgrube1 year ago
Great job! I've been making some experiments with this kind of photography and love it, but haven't achieved good results like yours! Thanks for sharing this!
kchandima1 year ago
Great stuff.. Thanks bro u r a pro !
marctorr1 year ago
Film is great as is one single, very long exposure but let's face it, not many people continue to use film, digital photography is here to stay and what you wind up with is simply photography as is is today for most folks. You would also be surprised what you can do with a moon in the sky, partial or full.
sconner11 year ago
Nice photos.
I can't help but feel that photoshop is cheating.
The real way to do it is with slow film and an actual long exposure.
Which would require a moonless night so as to not overexpose.
marctorr1 year ago
The following protocal works very well with startrails stacking software and limits noise considerably. Jpeg setting cuts processing time.
1. Manual mode
2. ISO 200 - 400
3.f/stop lowest, 2.8-4.5
4.Speed: 30 sec
5.JPEG fine
6.D-Range setting OFF
7.Steady Shot (Vibration Reduction) OFF
8.Noise Reduction OFF
9.Manual focus set to ∞
10.Continuous
I recommend doing some test shots with manual focus first and make sure you adjust the focus to get the stars crisp. Sometimes infinity focus will still blur stars.
js_almada87 (author)  marctorr1 year ago
Cool ! I guess the settings really depend on the effect you want to create, thank you for sharing this !
marctorr1 year ago
You do not need to have Photoshop to combine multiple images. A totally free program called Startrails is available at http://www.startrails.de. It's a very small but powerful program that I have used with windows 7.
I use this software myself and highly recommend it. I have photoshop and this startrails software makes startrails even easier to produce.
I found this link worked instead for the startrail software. Now only if they had a mac version.
http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html
js_almada87 (author)  darrennie1 year ago
A mac version would be nice !
js_almada87 (author)  marctorr1 year ago
Awesome, photoshop it's just one of many different ways to do this, do you know if there is a mac version for this ?
Atman81 year ago
Thanks for the post! This is probably a silly question, but what happens if you just open the shutter for 74 minutes? Is the effect not good?
Open your shutter too long will fry your CMOS. The longer you open your shutter, the hotter you CMOS gets. That also means your camera life will be shorten far more than a normal photo shoot.
Also, longer exposures add more noise to your images. Definitely use a timer to keep exposures to 30 seconds each or so.
Ah. Good tip. Thanks!
js_almada87 (author)  Atman81 year ago
I believe that in some cases this might work, depending of how good or bad your camera can manage noise, in this particular case, a longer exposure would have over exposed my photo, compromised detail and had a lot of digital noise.
Out of interest, what camera are you using?
hardj0091 year ago
beautiful pictures. is that brimham rocks by the way
js_almada87 (author)  hardj0091 year ago
Yeah, have you been there? it's a beautiful place, went there with couple of friends over a year ago, I learned how to do startrails that day.
yer we went up their last year to visit our great grandma and stopped by there on the way home. again was snowing. realy fun to climb on aswell as look at. amazing how the rokers are formed like that. the star trails are realy realy good i never thought to do it that way.:)
js_almada87 (author)  hardj0091 year ago
It's a beautiful place !
yoyology1 year ago
I never would have thought of taking multiple long exposures and combining them this way. It's a great tip and a beautiful photo. Gracias!
js_almada87 (author)  yoyology1 year ago
You are welome ! glad you liked it.
^^What he said^^
Do you find a lot of noise keeping the shutter open longer than 30 seconds even with an ISO of 400? Your photo is awesome!
js_almada87 (author)  coolscience.com1 year ago
Thank you ! I didn't have problems with noise at all for this photo, I love doing long exposures and most of the time ISO 400 won't give me any digital noise problems.
It is often much prettier and the trails appear more naturally just above the equator, though. Monte Teide is, in part, famous for the natural wonders being visible when looking from the NW side (so places like Santiago del Teide and Las Gigantes). It is also a great place to look at the milky way from.
js_almada87 (author)  analuisamontanez1 year ago
Awesome ! thank you for the tip !
the-police1 year ago
Very Nice! I've never been able to figure out how this was done properly. Great instructable!
js_almada87 (author)  the-police1 year ago
Glad it helped !
Same with me, "Properly" being the key. I have always had problems with noise.
sheltieman1 year ago
Couldn't the lens be locked open all night like in the old days
js_almada87 (author)  sheltieman1 year ago
You could do that, but it really depends on the location, in this case if I had done that my image would be overexpose because of light pollution, another thing to consider is that if you leave the lens open for very long it might start causing digital noise.
rupeshvede1 year ago
simply great...thnx a tone...
js_almada87 (author)  rupeshvede1 year ago
You're welcome !
marctorr1 year ago
Forgot to give credit to Lisa Madelkern amd Debbie Hands for the Stratrails info I just added.
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