This summer I took some time to revisit an old pastime of mine .. Star Trails. I guess this was largely influenced by my recent "Nightscape Journey" DVD which was produced as part of The Land and Sky Art of the Night Exhibition.
During production of the DVD I spent time going through some really old archives from when I first started nightscape photography, and of course just like most people, my first foray into nightscapes were star trails.
My first star trails were taken with film cameras and were done the old fashioned way ... open the shutter for the whole duration of the shot ... sometimes up to 3 hours or more.
The image below was possibly my very first star trail shot. It's the planet Jupiter setting in the western sky. As you can see there are not too many other stars showing. This shot was taken on 620 black & white film on a box brownie.
I guess you could say it's a fair contrast to the image at the top of the page which was taken with a modern full frame DSLR camera. I wouldn't even dream of trying an exposure that long now.
My method of capturing star trails now entails stacking a series of shorter exposures and blending each one into a single image. This is a reasonably straight forward exercise given the abundance of software and computer power available to us today.
But I can't help but think that because things are easier now, we can so quickly forget the basics of capturing a beautiful image. Composition and content are still the most important aspects of any image, and that includes those taken at night. In fact for any of you who may have tried capturing nightscape images, composition becomes a very big challenge. It's just so hard to see anything in the dark.
But just as with any image taken during the day, we need to be mindful of including foreground objects as focal points in our picture. The stars become a glorious backdrop for our photographic canvas, and as I have often noticed, it doesn't really matter what we use in the foreground ... it seems to complete the image. I suppose it's a bit like putting a canvas into a frame .. it makes sense.
When capturing star trails I like to point my camera towards the southern sky (I live in Australia) because I love to see the graceful circular patterns generated by the rotation of the earth as time passes by. I love the night sky and it's always my intention when capturing images to reveal an aspect that somehow showcases just how majestic it actually is.
Here are a couple more of my 2015 Star Trails .... I hope you are enjoying the view on these lovely summer nights.
Old Shed Trails: 38 x 1 minute exposures Nikon D610 14mm f2.8 iso 800
Spinning Church: 18 x 2 minute exposures Nikon D610 14mm f2.8 iso 400
My intent is to inspire you to look up and see the beauty of the night sky.