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11-24-2008, 03:21 PM
Anyone have a good tutorial or tips to maximize the chance to get good stuff on the first attempt?

I know shawn, saad, and even nick are into these. I read this website (http://www.danheller.com/star-trails.html) originally posted by shawn, but I'd love some more tips to get me started.

For Thanksgiving I'll be out in the middle of BFE, so I figured it would be a great time to try some star trails. I noticed that Wednesday night there is only a 1% crescent moon, so its going to be dark!

I'm have my tripod, cable release, and all that jazz. I'm thinking about using my 18-55 on its wide end. Planning on setting the camera up in our field with the tree line in the foreground. The easiest positioning would be north or west.

So what would be a good place to start with exposures? Do you guys stick with ISO100, or bump it up as needed? I'm not going to be out all night (staying in a hotel with the wife), so I can't take two hour exposures + NR. Should I start out with short exposures (high ISO, wide apature) to get the logistics down, then lengthen the exposure?

Thanks for any help guys.

11-24-2008, 03:29 PM
I remember seeing this site, but wasn't able to find it for the longest time.

Thanks for sharing it

11-24-2008, 03:31 PM
its the first hit for Google "star trails" :lol:

Comon Saad, you have any tips? As cool as your star trail stitch program is, I think a single exposure shot will be where its at.

11-24-2008, 06:13 PM
did you try searching here?

11-24-2008, 06:28 PM
yeah I read a number if threads, but could not find a centralized location of info/tips to get someone started.

edit - here was another good resource (but it was blocked at my work) - http://www.naturescapes.net/112006/ej1106.htm

11-24-2008, 06:55 PM
its the first hit for Google "star trails" :lol:

Comon Saad, you have any tips? As cool as your star trail stitch program is, I think a single exposure shot will be where its at.

I wish I could take one long exposure. But there are two problems I have:

I don't have a remote shutter thingy
I'm in the suburbs, but there still is a fair bit of light around me. If I were to take a long exposure somehow, all the light would probably ruin my shots.

11-24-2008, 09:52 PM
Saad, you should be able to do a certain amount with just "bulb" mode on your camera. I bought a wireless remote for my wife's aunt's XTi last year, is that all you need for longer exposures? I think I maybe paid $10 for it.

FWIW, I got kinda bored with just star trails. I mean, they are cool if you include them in a long exposure, but they just aren't that interesting by themselves. I think the most important thing is not the stars, but finding an interesting subject matter to go with them.

So, for my tips, I'll say, out of town, no moon, focus at infinity (or hyperfocal if you want to include something close also.), and a good tripod is not as crucial as you'd think... you'll get some initial vibration, but if it isn't windy or anything, it shouldn't affect the final image.

11-25-2008, 11:40 AM
Saad, I'm coming back your way now...

After reading some info on stacking, it appears you get less noise (even without long exposure NR?) and more control. Granted to do good stacking, you need a programable timer shutter release.

Some good stuff here:

11-25-2008, 11:51 AM
ISO100 and in camera NR works great for me. Virtually noise free images.

You will have to experiment, exposure length will depend on the amount of ambient light and or Moon light.

If you are on a new moon, no ambient light, pitch black, you could easily get away with F/5.6 ISO 100 for an hour or more, assuming your camera's battery can handle it.

I can't find the blog, but a Pentax K10D user shot a 2 hour single exposure star trails shot and let the camera do the NR. So the camera was on for 4 hours straight, it wrote the file and completed the NR frame. The file was very clean.

I have no idea how Canon or Nikon's do for in camera long exposure NR, but the Pentax K10D and K20D work great @ ISO 100 and Good at ISO200.

Reed Goodwin
11-25-2008, 03:31 PM
I did some star trails over the summer in Yellowstone. It was pretty black, pretty cold and I was out there for a while. I had the 20D on the tripod with my Sigma 17-70 at 17mm in bulb mode triggered with a wired cable release I think I got on Amazon. I would do a trail shot at ISO 3200, f2.8 for about 30 seconds to confirm what the scene looked like and then did longer exposures at around ISO 200 and f5.6. I managed to get multiple half-hour exposures out of one battery in 40-degree weather. Here's what I managed to come up with. EXIF is intact.




case sensitive
11-25-2008, 05:30 PM
reed, those are awesome!

11-25-2008, 06:04 PM
reed, those rock. thanks for sharing your technique

11-25-2008, 07:42 PM
Awesome shots Reed

11-26-2008, 08:46 AM
So now I think I may stack multiple short exposures. I got a good tip on POTN:

Just set the camera up, turn off Mirror Lock Up and the Long Exposure Noise Reduction, set it to burst shooting mode, set it to 30" exposure, then lock down the shutter release and sit back as it snaps away every 30-seconds. One or two hours of this will give plenty of nice images to stack.
But do I need to enable or disable (default) mirror lock up?

Reed Goodwin
11-26-2008, 11:49 AM
You would want to enable it. If you don't, it will cause the mirror to slap around between shots, shaking the setup.

11-26-2008, 11:55 AM
You would want to enable it. If you don't, it will cause the mirror to slap around between shots, shaking the setup.

On a wide angle long exposure, it's really not going to make that big of a difference... but if you can, enable mirror lockup.

Another thing that I always say about star trails.... do like Reed did and make sure you have a horizon to frame the shot. Without something still in the picture, it's hard to really tell what you're looking at.

11-26-2008, 12:01 PM
thanks guys, when I saw the other guy say disable lockup it made me think about it, and I figured it would only help.

edit - seems like if Lockup is enabled, I can't fire off multiple continuous shots using my shutter release lock

11-28-2008, 09:48 AM
cloud cover = suck

11-28-2008, 07:30 PM
tell me about it, I've been wanting to try this out the last couple of days after seeing this thread.. plus I can't find the time to get out of the city.=/