Doing long exposure shots can be a very tricky business, and it needs the right kind of equipment too, especially when you want to take photos of stars and star trails. First of all, you would need a capable DSLR or compact camera that will allow you to go on full manual control. Using your smartphone camera for this purpose will not simply get the job done. With the right technique and equipment, you can even create hypnotic concentric circles of star trails.
Taking Pictures of Stars and Star Trails Using Long Exposure
Step 1 – One of the first things to invest one when you’re going to do long exposure to shoot images of stars and star trails, aside from your camera, is a tripod. Also, it is wise to head to a location wherein there is no “light pollution.” This is when there are tons of city lights that actually cloud the beautiful night sky, hence, you won’t be able to see any stars and it makes it more difficult to photograph them.
Step 2 – Aside from the tripod, you might want to purchase a remote shutter release for your camera. But if you don’t have the extra budget to purchase the peripheral, you can also use the camera’s self-timer function to release the shutter. This is because doing long exposure photography needs the camera to be completely still. One slight shake can ruin the entire image. A lot of photographers do not notice but hitting the shutter button can produce that shake. Hence, it is better to just let the camera do that for you.
Step 3 – When you want to take pictures of star trails, it is wise to understand how the Earth rotates and how the stars appear to move because of the planet’s motion. Like the sun, the stars will rise to the east and sink into the west as the night progresses. Make sure that the ISO settings on your camera is set to a low figure, and do a 30-second exposure on your camera. In photographing star trails, the light from the moon can destroy the image. Hence, it is better to shoot when there is practically a moon-less dark sky.
Step 4 – If you want to do long exposure shots of a bunch of stars but don’t want star trails to do it, don’t open the shutter just once for long periods of time. Instead, set the manual focus on infinity, then open the shutter first for 5-seconds, and then for 10, and then for 20, and so on until you’re happy with the results. Should the image be blurred, then nudge the focus just a teeny bit out of infinity before taking another shot.
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