I’ve wanted to properly have a go at Star Trail Photography for years. I came close a year ago by accident when taking night-time landscape shots in spain, but there was a bit too much light about for the effect to be that dramatic. I was recently staying on the coast in Anglesey (see my earlier posts) and the conditions were near enough perfect.
There are a couple of competing methods for achieving this kind of photograph circling about the net these days. The most popular seems to be to set up the camera (via a digital cable release, or via the camera’s software) to take a series of 30 second exposures to the time desired and then comp these together in post. This way the inherant noise in the digital capture is overcome. I decided to cowboy it. I rigged up an elaborate system of elastic bands to hold down the shutter and I left the camera open for close to 30 minutes. I did this for a number of reasons. Firstly, combining lots of 30 second exposures is a lot of work, also you don’t get the exposure of the foreground you do with a very long exposure, also as I had never used this camera (Nikon D300) for this type of photo before, I thought it would be interesting to see how bad the noise actually was. It wasn’t that bad at all really. However, next time I do this type of image, I’ll expose for a lot longer – 1 hour at least to get longer trails, and also I’ll shoot on film.