How to Photograph Star Trails Tutorial

Star trail photography is an interesting way to depict the earth’s rotation on its axis. Polaris is a star that’s aligned with the earth’s axis of rotation – hence it’s called the pole star. So, if we capture a long exposure of the sky, it will seem as if all the other stars are revolving around Polaris. This creates a very interesting look, which we call star trails. In this video, photographer Alyn Wallace shares everything you need to know about photographing stunning star trails:

In this elaborate video, Wallace takes us through the gear, photography techniques, and the editing process to take breathtaking star trail photographs. One important thing that you need to pay attention to is the exposure duration. It’s a risky idea to take a single long exposure photo with an exposure time of multiple minutes, or even hours. If just one little thing goes wrong, the whole image is ruined.

A better alternative is thus to take shorter exposures, and stack them up in post. Doing so has two benefits: it allows you to create a star trail composite, and you also make a timelapse video. As Wallace elaborately demonstrates in the video, you can use Lightroom to touch up the exposure, StarStaX to align the images, and Photoshop to clean up the final image.

A good thing about shooting star trails is that you can try it out even if you live in a area with a fair amount of light pollution. If you plan to try it, be sure to choose a night when the moon is the least distracting. New moon nights are best.

Are you interested in astrophotography? If you are, this is a good place to start. Try staying up late for a shoot. The results will be well worth it.

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One response to “How to Photograph Star Trails Tutorial”

  1. Jerry F Coupe says:

    Very informative video on shooting star trails.

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