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Need help with my Star Trails!


Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
1 Jun 2012 3:17PM

Quote:Thanks for all of your help and advice guys. Thank you also for your patience. I fear the embarrassment of asking silly questions that sometimes might be common sense but I am learning and there are a lot of things to remember!

If you don't know an answer the question is never silly. And as you see if people know the answer on here they're always willing to help Smile

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NEWDIGIT 3 401 United Kingdom
1 Jun 2012 3:30PM
metalhead has some good tips ref infinity focus you could do the same and if camera allows then switch to manual focus and focus lock or use a fine luminous non permanent pen and mark the point on the side if your lens .
switch noise reduction off
Shooting an effective startrail is very tricky firstly you want to avoid areas where there is light polution so trying it in an urban area becomes very problematic.
When photographing star trails, your goal is to allow your camera to pick up light it wouldn’t normally by using extra long exposures. Working under the night sky means that the amount of available light is severely limited – most likely, you’ll only be able to capture the stars in the sky depending on if there are other light sources around, unless you’re planning on spending a few hours for each exposure.
With that being said, it’s very important to utilize proper long exposure techniques: locking your mirror, mounting your camera on a secure tripod, and using a remote cable release for your shutter.

To capture star trails using one long exposure, there are a couple important things to consider. You need to let as much light into your lens as possible for those stars to register (the why’s of this are explained below) – this means using a fast lens, preferably in the f/2.8 range.

When photographing stars under one exposure, you need to do it during a new moon night – meaning that the moon is nowhere to be seen. If you have anything more than a crescent, your exposure will be limited to the 10-minute range because of the ambient light, which won’t do much for star trails. For this kind of photography, darkness is your best friend.

Ultimately, you’re aiming for your environment to be illuminated by the stars themselves – yes it’s possible! However, this entirely depends on the length of your exposure. The image below is the result of an 80 minute exposure taken under a new moon – you can see that the foreground is exposed nicely and the star trails are outstanding.


To capture star trails using one long exposure, there are a couple important things to consider. You need to let as much light into your lens as possible for those stars to register (the why’s of this are explained below) – this means using a fast lens, preferably in the f/2.8 range.

When photographing stars under one exposure, you need to do it during a new moon night – meaning that the moon is nowhere to be seen. If you have anything more than a crescent, your exposure will be limited to the 10-minute range because of the ambient light, which won’t do much for star trails. For this kind of photography, darkness is your best friend.

Ultimately, you’re aiming for your environment to be illuminated by the stars themselves – yes it’s possible! However, this entirely depends on the length of your exposure. Here are some old images that I have found that may inspire you the first is the result of an 80 minute exposure taken under a new moon – you can see that the foreground is exposed nicely and the star trails are outstanding.

2-5116808062-8448726acf-1-.jpg


1-463720176-35494a2e87-1-.jpg


1-2981086612-590a40b03f-1-.jpg

snapbandit 10 2.2k 3 Northern Ireland
1 Jun 2012 4:23PM
recently been looking into this and what works for me (after some trial & error) is:-
wide angle lens (greater sky coverage & depth of field to help with foreground objects)
wide aperture (surprised me this but it works as the light from the trails will register better for the given exposure time & there are less artifacts & hotspots with more even slightly shorter exposures rather than one long exposure)
as little gap between the exposures as possible (I use a cable release which has a 'lock'and the camera on fast sequence + NR off)
ISO around 400-1600 depending on how 'noisy' you camera is at those settings (same as wide aperture it helps the light to register more clearly)


some good info from a guy here
http://www.jamesvernacotola.com/Resources/How-To-Photograph-Star-Trails/12233655_V7cX4D

this shot was taken out my back garden (trails look smoother on full size image & bit too much light pollution, but haven't got out to a darker area yet)
stackedimage05wee.jpg


approx 120x30sec exposures @ f5.6, ISO 400 24mm lens. rendered with StarStaX software

Hot this info helps.

Joe B
LJSThomas 2 4 United Kingdom
1 Jun 2012 5:33PM
Thanks for sharing that pic of your back garden, Snapbandit. I can see that you have also tried using the same procedure by getting several shorter exposures and stacking them with the same software. You used a smaller aperture than I did so I'm going to give 5.6 a go next time as well!

Newdigit, I can't wait to have a go at Star Trails outside of the city under a new moon. Your post has motivated me to start looking for a Dark Sky trip. Grin

Thanks guys.

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