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Old Dec 10, 2012, 5:38 PM   #1
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Default The sky's the limit - star trails

My rather pathetic attempt. Some day I want to try this away from city lights, and be prepared for it. This night, I was trying to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower. I saw several bright ones but didn't catch any with my camera. This is equivalent to about a 70-minute exposure.

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Old Dec 10, 2012, 6:38 PM   #2
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Love this.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 10:09 PM   #3
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I think this is a very good shot. I want to do these out in the desert in Death Valley sometime. Will you tell us about how you generated the photo and how you processed it?

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Old Dec 10, 2012, 11:38 PM   #4
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Don't sell yourself short, that's a wonderful image. I am amazed at the relatively small amount of noise given you weren't using astronomical quality equipment or were you?

I've also stood countless hours awaiting the arrival of meteors and comets and aasteroids etc.. that never seem to appear at the right time and right place. Yet I've also walked through a lava field of an active volcano near midnight and out of pure luck treated to a wonderful view of a meterorite streaking across the skies. You figure.

Thanks for submitting a great shot.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 5:28 AM   #5
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thats really good
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 12:38 PM   #6
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70-minute??? Wow.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 1:17 PM   #7
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Thank you so much everyone! No special equipment, just my GF1 with 14mm lens and tripod. I did some research on the web, as well as some trial and error and this is my best attempt so far (actually, this was only my second outing doing this). Pointing north is not really a necessity, but you get this nice circular pattern if you do. You can't do a single looooong exposure with a digital camera because your camera sensor cannot handle all the light and you will get a very noisy image. You have to take a bunch of 30 to 60 second exposures and stack them using any number of software out there. I found a freeware called StarStaX which I highly recommend, easy and very fast. What you see here is equivalent to a 60 - 70 minute exposure. I did 60+ exposures at 60 seconds each. You can either stand outside and kept pressing the shutter (do use a remote shutter) every 60 seconds for an hour or lock the shutter with camera set to 60 seconds. Another challenge: my camera goes into a long exposure noise reduction mode after an exposure longer than 30 seconds (this process takes as long as the exposure, so if you expose for 30 seconds, the camera will pause to render for 30 seconds). This is very bad because your star trail will end up looking like a dotted line. You will see these gaps if you pause for more than 2 seconds. I can override this rendering process by turning off the "Long Exposure NR". If you camera cannot override this, then choose the maximum exposure time allowed without going into this mode. If that is 30 seconds, then you will shoot approx. 120 shots to reach one hour. I think one hour is the minimum to get the full effect of the trails

Choose the lowest ISO, and smallest f-stop (aperture wide open). Manually focusing on infinity is also tricky in the dark (use the moon if it is out). I AF on hills very faraway, then immediately switch to MF mode and leave it untouched.

Sorry if I rambled, but lots of information to convey. I'll glad to elaborate if you send me a PM.
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Last edited by saly; Dec 12, 2012 at 10:23 AM.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 12:00 AM   #8
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Very well done. I like it a lot.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 9:46 AM   #9
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I especially like the framing, tha partial trails as opposed to the standard, but more clicheed (IMO) full circles
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 1:23 PM   #10
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Very cool! I keep saying I'm going to try this, but never do. I love how this came out.

The other place to try this is up in the mountains. There's a group of astronomers that go up to the highest spot you can drive to on Mt. Pinos every new moon, at least in the summer. Now they have some BIG tripods!
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