Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Category: Project365
License: CC-BY-NC-SA (What does this mean?)



At home, Ipswich
General location: Australia, South-East Queensland

The Setup:

I've been reading up on star trails for about a month now, and planning out what style (single exposure or composite), location (I thought our place at Ipswich would have too much light pollution - apparently not), and other such details. I wasn't expecting this test shot to be much of anything, but it turned out alright. It is a composite of 88 x 30-second exposures, combined in Startrails.

The camera & lens:

Camera: Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL
Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II @ 18mm
Exposure: 44 mins" @ f/5.6, ISO 800 (88 exposures (total 44 minutes exposure time, plus my camera seems to pause for around 0.5 seconds between each exposure).)

Post processing:

Startrails -

  1. This program could not be easier to operate. As long as the input files are file (i.e. a tripod was used, etc), just click select-all, load, then combine.
Lightroom -
  1. Curves: highlights +45, lights +75, darks +5, shadows +10
  2. Blacks +20, clarity +100 (combined with above to make the stars much brighter, and the background darker
  3. Noise reduction: luminance +40

The wash-up:

After the immediate feedback in-camera, and after processing, I researched some more and have a list of things to try for next time:

  • Shoot toward north pole or south pole, to get circular trails

  • Shoot JPEG rather than raw. All I'm doing with the raws is converting straight to JPEG anyway.

  • Shoot with small aperture and highish ISO, 30-second exposures (I prefer the immediate feedback that it's going to work)

  • Having a foreground subject will add some interest, and is generally recommended - but keep in mind the depth of field

  • Shoot during new moon, as the moon is much too bright compared to the stars

I'm going to try a couple more test shots at home, then a big one out at Laidley during new moon.

What would you do?

You are welcome to have a go at editing this photo yourself. When editing in browser, maximum size is 1600x1200px and edits can be saved as a comment if you want to share your work. Go crazy!

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8 Responses to “Project365 [313/365]: First Star Trail”

  1. Jon

    Re new moon – that can actually work against you if you’re trying to get foreground subjects in the shot. But I am curious to see if the lack of moon brings out more stars or galaxy dust cloud, or if it simply makes the noise more obvious…

    • lime

      I’m curious as well! What I think I’ll do is: if the foreground is too dark, I’ll take a longer exposure and stitch it in. We’re planning to spend the night at Laidley to get a good view, high up, but it will take a lot of luck to have a clear night on exactly the day we’re out there. Otherwise I hear Walloon is good (and closer to home).

  2. Jon

    Oh yeah, and if you have raws, try stacking them in layer on layer in photoshop with blend mode set to ‘lighten’ – thats all i did for my startrails. oh yeah, if mem is an issue you can flatten all and clear undo every so often šŸ™‚

  3. Al

    Great trails, Sheridan. Nice foreground and great processing, too šŸ™‚

    @Jon – thanks for the tip about blend/lighten.


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