Ever see those pictures where the stars streak across the sky in a big arc? Or maybe the whole sky looked like it was spinning? What you saw was star trails. The streaks were light left behind on the sensor or film from the star as it traveled across the sky in front of an open camera shutter. In fact, what are being recorded are stationary stars and the rotation of the earth as it spins past them. For me, the images seem to have a certain magic or mystery about them.
You must have heard a photographer talking about capturing that perfect moment in time. Well for capturing star trails you will need to capture the perfect hour or two in time. For such amazing looking images, the technique used to capture them is really quite simple. Keep reading for a complete set of instructions from start to finish.
Some people have been asking for tips on how to do star trails. There seems to be a few misconceptions and a few different methods. Here’s a tutorial on my personal technique.
We’ve shared plenty of gorgeous time-lapse videos of the night sky and “tiny world” images, but what do you get when you combine the two concepts? French photographer Stephane Vetter shows us with the video above, titled “Leonid and Zodiacal Light.”
North Carolina-based photographer Daniel Lowe sent us the gorgeous video above, which shows star trails forming and floating across the sky. Most time-lapse videos of the night sky show stars as points of light, rotating around Earth’s pole. Lowe’s video shows the long streaks of star trails doing the rotating, making the video even more surreal and magical.
Photographer Knate Myers of Albuquerque, New Mexico created this awe-inspiring time-lapse video using long-exposure night shots captured by astronauts on the International Space Station. This is one video you’ll have to watch in HD and at full screen.
Last month we shared a long exposure photograph by NASA astronaut Don Pettit that showed star trails and city trails in the same frame. Turns out the photo was just one of many long exposure images shot by Pettit so far during Expedition 31. The photograph above shows star trails, an aurora, and flashes of lightning splattered all across the surface of the Earth.
Babak Tafreshi of The World at Night created this beautiful time-lapse video of star gazers looking into the heavens while the stars sweep across the night sky. Check out Tafreshi’s beautiful astrophotography here.
Here’s an amazing time-lapse video that was made using time-lapse photography shot over six months in the beautiful state of Oregon. This interview quote by Ben Canales gives a glimpse into how much dedication this kind of project requires:
The actual filming takes 2-4 hours to record a good night time-lapse of the stars moving, and then pack up, hike out, and drive home the next day. That is only the work done in the field! Then there are hours and hours of processing, editing, and polishing the final video sequence to get only six seconds of final video.
It is not an exaggeration to say one short, final clip may represent 20-30 hours of planning, driving, hiking, shooting, and processing — all that for mere seconds of video playback. It is a ridiculous labor of love.
Hundreds of hours of work for a four-minute video that has already been viewed over a hundred thousand times. Be sure to watch it full screen and in HD!
You’ve seen photos of star trails, and time-lapse videos of stars, but how about a combination of the two? Olivier Martel created this beautiful 18-second video using a technique we’ve never seen before: stacking star trail photos into a time-lapse video showing the trails forming.
After capturing roughly 500 photos (25s, f/3.5, ISO1600) from midnight to 5am in Quebec, Canada, he used a popular star trail stacking program called Starstax. In addition to stacking all the images into one, he had the program save the intermediate images at each step. He then turned those images into the stunning video seen above. The finished (and fully stacked) image can be seen here.
Photographer Lincoln Harrison captures jaw-dropping photographs of star trails. Shooting from the Australian outback, he spends up to 15 hours creating each image of the night sky. Shooting with a Nikon D7000, Nikon D3100, and a wide assortment of lenses, Harrison captures a large number of exposures of the foreground and stars separately. He then combines the images (sometimes hundreds of them) into amazing photographs showing the sky dominated by colorful star trails.