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The Watch Tower

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Taken on halloween in the fine company of Freja and Bruffy. On route we didn't think we'd get a shot at this as the sky was a blanket of cloud, but within minutes of arriving the cloud just disappeared and we decided to give it a go.

I've had significant trouble in the last few years working out how to do star trails digitally. The problem is usually one of noise - long exposures can often cause the sensor to heat and temp is one of the main casues of digital noise. Perhaps others may therefore find this useful:

The technique needed here is called 'stacking'. Basically you need to take lots of shorter exposures then stack them digitally. Here we have 126 30sec exposures. 125 stacked using the 'Star Trails' software freely available on the net. And the last using Photoshop. The last image included the light painting of the fore ground and mid ground, I added this seperately as I wanted to manipulate this image before compiling the final image. Once I edited this painted layer the resulting 'stacked' photo from the Star Trails software was then added using the 'Lighten' blending mode in the layer palette (note before adding this image adjust the levels and curves to really bring out the stars - there will be far more than you first think, but be careful not to push too far as this results in noise).

Final tweaks included some curves adjustments, sharpening, and noise control (deleting the sharpening from the sky). Frame added and Bobs your uncle a star trail.

Now the question is - was it worth it? (Please view large)

Rgds,

Adam

PS Fully expecting this to bomb as the thumbnail is not up to much.

Camera:EOS 5D
Lens:17-40mm L
Recording media:JPEG (digital)
Title:The Watch Tower
Username:sherlob sherlob
Uploaded:2 Nov 2008 - 11:17 AM
Tags:Cheshire, Digitally manipulated, Flash / lighting, Landscape, Landscape / travel, Mow cop, Star trail, Startrail
Votes:57
Modifications wanted Modifications Welcome (Upload a Modification)

Comments

janehewitt
janehewitt e2 Member 11215 forum postsjanehewitt vcard United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:21 AM

Ooooh this is a bit special! Lovely and well worth the effort jane

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jdenman
jdenman e2 Member 6jdenman vcard Spain5 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:28 AM

I think this is brilliant, a fantastic bit of work.
John

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GreyMoonRising
2 Nov 2008 - 11:31 AM

Very nice but so much trouble taken to achieve it...why not just use your camera's b (bulb) setting?

Beautiful none the less
Peter

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sherlob
sherlob e2 Member 82439 forum postssherlob vcard United Kingdom126 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for the comments.

Peter: With digital you get noise from the heat generated by a very long exposure. This image represents the equivilant of an hours exposure. Now if I had used film, the problem of noise wouldn't have been an issue.

Adam

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GreyMoonRising
2 Nov 2008 - 11:35 AM

Think I will try this myself (with film) looks amazing.
Peter

Last Modified By GreyMoonRising at 2 Nov 2008 - 11:36 AM

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Rende
Rende e2 Member 737 forum postsRende vcard Netherlands4 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:36 AM

Wonderful light and colours, and good composition too. Very interesting and amazing technique; am I right that the total exposure for this image was over an hour? It was worth it though.
Rende

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GrahamNobles
GrahamNobles e2 Member 6GrahamNobles vcard England4 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:51 AM

Good shot!
GN

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monkeygrip
monkeygrip e2 Member 6574 forum postsmonkeygrip vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 11:52 AM

Fantastic shot.Stu

Last Modified By monkeygrip at 2 Nov 2008 - 11:52 AM

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bayleaf
bayleaf  7 United Kingdom
2 Nov 2008 - 12:00 PM

Wow super shot and super pf too.

John.

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sherlob
sherlob e2 Member 82439 forum postssherlob vcard United Kingdom126 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 12:04 PM

Thanks Guys. Rende - yep, just over an hour. On trips like these you'll probably only get one chance of a decent composition, unless you like been out all night. So make a trip in the daylight and try to visualise what your after.

Peter - one other thingsto watch out for: a clear night with no moon. Good hunting.

Adam

Last Modified By sherlob at 2 Nov 2008 - 12:06 PM

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Mynett
Mynett e2 Member 6142 forum postsMynett vcard United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 12:07 PM

Well done a lot of work to this image, and well worth the effort, excellent
Linda

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Paintman
Paintman e2 Member 8902 forum postsPaintman vcard United Kingdom174 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 12:58 PM

I agree with all the above comments. A superbly taken and processed image. There look to be a couple of aircraft trails towards the bottom right of the sky as well, which adds more interest. Excellent work and well worth the effort.

Alan.

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Brenty
Brenty e2 Member 8Brenty vcard United Kingdom
2 Nov 2008 - 1:20 PM

Certainly worth the effort.

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Scaramanga
Scaramanga e2 Member 737 forum postsScaramanga vcard United Kingdom5 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 1:21 PM

Very impressive, great tutorial thanks.

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NexusImages
NexusImages e2 Member 71844 forum postsNexusImages vcard United Kingdom4 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 1:30 PM

Turned out well our kid! I have to say, I did wonder what the devil you were going to come up with from being down that bank.
No inclusion of Fred 'you'll be needing a license for that sort of thing' Bell?
Mand.x. (oh btw, I have your 5 boxes still in the back of my car!

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cassiecat
cassiecat e2 Member 639 forum postscassiecat vcard England46 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 1:37 PM

impressive.lesley

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TheLizard
TheLizard e2 Member 8TheLizard vcard United Kingdom
2 Nov 2008 - 4:46 PM

great effect with the sky.great shot

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MarkBroughton

Nice Job Adam, its come out really well mate
Mark

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MrsS
MrsS e2 Member 84527 forum postsMrsS vcard England18 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 5:50 PM

Looks good to me Adam, but wow, is that a lot of work! Wink

F x

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sherlob
sherlob e2 Member 82439 forum postssherlob vcard United Kingdom126 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 5:59 PM

You'd be surprised Fran. In reality its not much worse then blending two images together in PS. The Star Trails software is a breeze to use and its fully automated. If you set the camera to continuous mode and use a lockable cable release all you need to do is set it up, set the exposures going and sit back. In my experiments a minimum of an hour is needed for a decent trail, many folk go 2 or more hours.

Adam

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woodrow
woodrow e2 Member 7153 forum postswoodrow vcard Scotland
2 Nov 2008 - 6:15 PM

impressive amount of work and yes, its worth it

Paul

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chase
chase Critique Team 91118 forum postschase vcard England242 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 6:42 PM

Wow !!

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Codiac
Codiac e2 Member 8329 forum postsCodiac vcard Northern Ireland3 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 7:12 PM

Absolutely worth it, we have been talking about doing some of these, if i could get one half as good id be happy.

Gary

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chris-p
chris-p e2 Member 964 forum postschris-p vcard England
2 Nov 2008 - 7:21 PM

Impressive and well worth it ......

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m3lem
m3lem e2 Member 8m3lem vcard England
2 Nov 2008 - 7:29 PM

Very impressive, very clever, brilliant
Andrea

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richardwheel
richardwheel e2 Member 9217 forum postsrichardwheel vcard England2 Constructive Critique Points
2 Nov 2008 - 8:40 PM

very impressive mate, expertly done

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GalleryGirl
2 Nov 2008 - 9:11 PM

Wow cracking image!
Marilyn x

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Hoffy
Hoffy e2 Member 10257 forum postsHoffy vcard England16 Constructive Critique Points
3 Nov 2008 - 9:21 AM

Great capture.

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chrisco
chrisco e2 Member 959 forum postschrisco vcard United Kingdom3 Constructive Critique Points
3 Nov 2008 - 10:40 AM

superb image,well worth the effort Smile

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