Roger Worrall | Photographing Star Trails my setup

Photographing Star Trails my setup

March 18, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Here I would like to share with you my setup on shooting star trails. First of all it's best that you know how to work your camera in the dark knowing where the control buttons are and what each one does as you will need to adjust settings whilst out in the field.

What I tend to do before going out is to preset my camera to the following;
Manual shooting mode, widest aperture available for me this is F4 and i set an ISO of 1000, as i am using a timer remote control shutter release i set the shutter speed to bulb, this is changed to 30 sec exposure for taking a few test shots, for use manual focus and set the lens to infinity, a good sturdy tripod and a torch most important. For save measure I tend to use tape so we don't move it out of focus by accident when out on location, that's my basic setup before venturing out to the location. Don't forget some hand warming pads not to keep your hands warm but to stop condensation on the lens. I use a cloth wrapped around the outer edge of the lens with the hand warmers inserted into it held on with an elastic band. This stops any interference with the camera whilst it's continuing to take shots for 2 hours or more. No lens wiping.

Here are a few images of the gear and setup.

Yongnuo remote timer shutter release.

Nikon D610 with Sigma 24-105 F4 DG OS HSM "ART" lens taped to infinity plus the remote receiver fitted to camera. Ideally i would love a wider angle lens something like the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8.

A good sturdy tripod with spikes fitted to ensure a solid and stable placement on the ground.

Head torch or any torch as long as you take something with you. Can also be used for lighting up an object or building to be in the shot.

Hand warming pads to stop condensation build up on the lens.

Now we have the kit setup to as near as we want it, it's time to head out, as long as the skies are clear. It's always best to scout your location during daylight hours so you know where your going and where you want to be to take the shot, also to see how the ground lies if there are any dangers etc. 

On location we set up our gear and take a few test shots using the settings already on the camera. 

Aperture F4, 30 sec exposure and ISO 800

You can see we need to make a few adjustments her angle of camera etc.


I changed a few settings for the next shot
F4 30 sec exposure ISO3200


The final settings I used were F4 35 second exposure set on the remote timer (and the camera exposure set to bulb) with a 1 second interval ISO800 and 200 shots. Within the last 15 shots or so I had an aircraft fly over obviously resulting in a trail of light. See image below.

The trails of light were edited out in the processing stage using.

The final image consists of 180 images edited in Lightroom and stacked in PS CC

King Alfreds TowerKing Alfreds TowerStar Trails King Alfreds Tower

A good dark sky with little or no moon light and choose your location with no or little light pollution will give you the best results, here you can still see some light pollution and some high cloud. Hope this has been of some help and look forward to hearing your comments. 
Remember wrap up warm, if your heading out alone tell someone where you are going, adhere to the country side rules and take a flask of tea with you most of all enjoy your photography. 

Stay Safe out there.!





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