Star Trails, are a collection of photos combined to give you a photo that shows how the stars move through the night. In this instructible, i will show you how to make one. One thing about them is that you're taking around 1000 (or more) photos and combining them just to get one image (which can seem like a lot of work.) But, most of the time, the resulting image is glorious and totally worth the effort.
Step 1: Equipment
For star trails, and really all long exposure photography, one of your greatest weapons is your tripod. This keeps your camera stable to avoid getting a blurred image. Next is is the camera (obviously). I use a GoPro hero 4 for my night photos, the wide angle lenses gives you lots of possibilities! Then a great place to shoot and a moonless night(I'll explain in a minute). Of course, you could use a DSLR, or other high end camera.
Step 2: Location/weather
When shooting night photography, make sure to have good stable ground. Location is very important you could have a lake in the background, trees, shoot it at a weird angle, have it looking straight up, the possibilities are endless. Be creative and do what you think will look the coolest in the end. Weather is also a big factor. While long exposure snow shots can look cool(see picture), its generally not a good idea for star trails. Rain also is not recommended. (Obviously, if its cloudy your not going to be seeing very many stars so that is another factor to consider.)
Following up on the snow pic. Due to the shutter staying open for longer periods of time than normal, the snow shows up as long streaks because of the light reflecting off of it.
Step 3: Why No Moon, Is a Good Moon
As you can see from the picture, when the moon gets in your star trail and is blended with the other pictures it becomes a big blurred object. To avoid this, try to keep the moon out of the shot. Or overlay it with another image.
Step 4: Settings!!
A huge thing is the settings. When i shoot star trails and night photos with the GoPro, i usually set the exposure to 20 or 30 seconds, depending on the area. If I'm in the middle of nowhere then twenty seconds is usually good. But if theirs some extra light then 30 will make the stars show better. When shooting with GoPro remember to set the mode to "night lapse" so it continues to take pictures. Remember to keep it still or you'll get blurry images. If your using a DSLR or other camera, you'll have to find some other type of timer or device to take the picture repeatedly. I typically will set the time to 30 seconds which means it will take a picture every thirty seconds. depending on how long I'm shooting for maybe a minute.
Step 5: Processing
After you've shot for about an hour to two hours (or longer) you'll need to get your camera and load the pictures onto your computer.(an obvious, but necessary step.) Then put it into whatever software you use for blending. i use StarStax which is a free image blending application. It was created by Markus Enzweiler and can be downloaded here: http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.... * Download the program and open it once in, you'll need to grab the pictures from the camera and insert them into the program. (follow my on picture instructions) (FYI, next to the process button is the save button.)
After processing you should get a picture that looks somewhat similar to my third image on the page.
* disclaimer: at the time of downloading this application worked like a charm and his website worked like a breeze. Use at your own risk , i am not responsible if something happens while using it.
Step 6: Editing! and Finish
Now comes the exciting part! Editing! This is where you really get to express your inner creativity! I will typically use Color Efex Pro 4 for editing, its an app from Google from the Nik Collection Suite. download: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/products/col... One of my favorite effects is the detail extractor .
Use this editor or your favorite one. You should now have a good looking star trail.
Thanks for reading!! I hope you learned something!
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Happy comments are appreciated. If you think i forgot something please tell me in the comments! positive criticism is good.
Runner Up in the
Photography Contest 2017