In other articles, I mentioned the fantastic night sky in Botswana with more stars than you have ever seen. In that article, I chose to accurately catch the night sky. Another technique I had planned to use was to shoot star trails. My plan was to scout out a great setting such as a baobab tree prior to sunset and then get the shot. Unfortunately, last trip, I ran out of tiem in the evenings. That said, I definitly plan to do this next trip.
I have shot star trails in the past, it is easy, but does require you dedicating an hour or two sitting around while the camera takes the shots. Also key is having a strong battery as exposures are typically 30 minutes to an hour.. From my research, I learned that there are several ways to get the shot. The ‘old way’ which was the primary way in the days of film is to set up the tripod, click the cable release and push it into the ‘ lock’ position and let time pass. In the digital world, this typically leads to very high sensor noise, so the more common current method is to take many 30 second exposures and then sandwich them together. Most use free download software to accomplish this.
The internet has several good articles on technique, so rather than writing a step by step ‘how to’ article, I am going to site a number of links that are good reads on the subject:
- Star Trail Photography by E. J Peiker
- Star Trail Photography by Harold Edens
- Star Trails, Digital Style; Exposure and Stacking Techniques by Art Rosch
- Stacking Star Trails: Tips and Techniques by Harold Davis
- Four Steps to Creating Star Trails Photos Using Stacking Software by Peter Carey
- Stacking Techniques for Star Trails by Patti Schulze
- Photographing Star Trails by Dan Heller
- Star Trail Photography by Arnoud Quanjer
- Another EXCELLENT reference for night sky shooting by Kevin McElharan
- Companion article by Alister Benn “The Art of Available Light”