First attempt at capturing star trails gone wrong. Please help !

Started Jan 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
PBR Streetgang Regular Member • Posts: 302
Re: First attempt at capturing star trails gone wrong. Please help !

DrChirag wrote:

Hi guys. I was on a family trip away from the city where I had decided to capture star trails. I had a tripod with me. Here are the difficulties i faced.

1. Focussing of the lens. I have a Canon 550 D with 18-135 lens. I tried to autofocus but it would just refuse to focus. The stars werent bright enough to allow for manual focussing. Finally I tried to focus on a branch of atree and increased the F no.

As someone stated, manual focusing is the way to go. Try distant objects in the image first so that depth of field is not an issue. Good examples might be a distant mountain or line of trees. Once you get a handle on star trails in general, you can work on foreground interest.

2. Bulb mode. I shot on bulb mode with the cam fixed on a tripod. I didnt have a remote to had to keep my finger on the shutter button for over 3 minutes. I fear doing it repeatedly might damage the shutter button. Canon anyone help with some decent remote shutter with long enough shutter

You definitely want a remote release because your finger on the shutter button will induce camera shake. If you are going to use bulb mode, be sure to get one that locks in position so you do not need to keep holding the button. A wireless remote is good, but wired remotes work well, too. I don't have a Canon, but I do use a cheap Vivitar release on my Nikon and it works fine.

3. Because of long exposures, the pictures were very bright and coulnt get good contrast ratios. (Note it was a full moon night). Dont know how much this contributed.

Long exposures with a full moon simply won't work, as it is too bright to see the star trails. I would recommend image stacking, with Starstax. It's free, easy to use, and some moonlight won't necessarily ruin the images. Basically, you take a series of 30 second JPEG images with the shortest interval possible between them, say, 1 to 3 seconds. If your camera has an interval timer, it's easy; if not, you need to do it manually with the remote release (no problem for 3 or 5 minutes, but if you want to get really good movement, you're going to need 200+ 30 sec exposures). Stack them in Starstax and you have your trails.

Before you start taking a long series of images for stacking, take an initial 30 second exposure to see if your focus is correct and the exposure/light is meeting your expectations (i.e., stars are bright, etc.).

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow