Interesting Photo of the Day: New Mexico Star Trails

Shiprock, the imposing rock formation in the high-desert plain of the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, New Mexico, has been the backdrop for many photographs and films. The massive rock makes for a beautiful setting, especially when the artist is able to capture the expansive sky on a clear, starry night like this one:

photographing star trails

Star Trails. Shiprock, New Mexico by Exeter-Boy (Via Imgur. Click image to see full size.)

Reddit user Exeter-Boy is the photographer behind this amazing star trail image that features the North Star, or Polaris. Since the camera was pointed toward the North Star, the surrounding star trails form a circle around it. The long exposure was taken over about two hours one night.

You can try the star trail effect too; it might take some practice but the end result is worth the time. Set your camera on a sturdy tripod and use a wide angle lens to capture the stars and your chosen foreground. If you can, try to shoot at a location away from light pollution.

Once your shot is set up, check to make sure you’re in focus. Adjust the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more noise, but depending on how dark it is, you may need to increase it. A wider aperture will help keep it down. Set the lens to infinity and focus on the stars, but everything in the foreground should be in focus as well.

Set the camera to 30 second exposures. Make sure it’s not set to automatic white balance, so it stays the same across each shot. Then set your camera to continuous shooting and use a shutter release cable to capture 30 second exposures for the next hour or two.

When you get home, you can “stack” the photos using a focus stacking program. You may have hundreds of photos that need to be lined up on top of each other to reveal the natural movement. As the Earth rotates, it appears as though the stars streak across the sky and by merging all your photos, you will be able to see the star trails.

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One response to “Interesting Photo of the Day: New Mexico Star Trails”

  1. Lois Bryan says:

    wow … i SO love these!!! well done!!!

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