Monday, July 23, 2012

Star Trails from the Reunion

This past month at Melarie's family reunion was my first attempt at taking a star trail photograph.  I figured the spot would be ideal because their is no light pollution, but it just happened to be during a nearly full moon so it did not help much.  Also, I have a cheaper camera with a maximum shutter speed of 30 second unless I time it manually on a bulb setting.  I did not want to stay up all night manually timing each exposure, so I bumped up the ISO speed to 800 and took continuous 30 second exposures at f/3.5.  The setup was not ideal but the results were better than I expected.

The camera battery died at about 4:00 am and I did not wake up to replace it till 4:30am so you will see a little gap in the time lapse video at the end. You will also see in the time lapse that the moon set around 3:00am.  I put together star trails of all images as well as separate stacks of before and after the moon set.

First, here is a stacked photo of all 565 images including the eventual sunrise which really washes out the image.  Next time I will only include a few images to the beginning of twilight.  It appears that either the north star rotates slightly or my tripod was not very stable during the night.

Next, Here is a stack of all the images while the moon was up.  The mountain and trees are well illuminated by the moon.  I like this one but it still looks like too much light.

And finally, here is a stack using only images taken after the moon set at 3am.  

I put the following time lapse video together using all images. You may notice a skip around the 30 second mark when the camera battery died.  I really liked the beginning of twilight so I kept the final 7 seconds in the video.  Next time I will just start shooting later in the evening so that the camera battery lasts all the way through twilight.  I was able to shoot continuously for almost 4.5 hours (480 images) by turning off the display and image review.

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