Star trails and Milky Way photos, I’ll never get tired of them!
There are many different genres of photography and they all incorporate different skill sets. Having a solid foundation in the basics of capturing light, is crucial to being able to build upon and grow. One genre that has numerous challenges is night sky photography, some may call it astrophotography. It is also my favorite genre is produce images and share with everyone.
In the above star trail photo, I had travelled 3 hours up north from my home on a chilly December Saturday afternoon with two other photographers. This was a great spot that I intend to go back a few times. A flashlight was required since it was a bit of a hike through woods. There was hardly any light pollution off in the distance so the sky was nice and dark. And the bane of night photography was not in sight. Airplanes. Personally, I despise having airplane trails in my night shots. They mess up the entire purpose of the photo, to show the star trails and the path they take over time. This is 140 separate photos, that are 25 seconds each, for and hour total. As with all star trail shots, I take all of those photos into Photoshop and stack them on top of each other, building up the star trail.
This was my second star trail photo taken in Ocean City, New Jersey. At the end of the beach here at 59th street, there used to be a fishing pier and you are looking at what was the remains of that. They have since been removed. Unlike the previous shot, I chose this location on the beach because it was well lit. The foreground was lit up from the street behind me, and that light made it easier to work on the camera instead of fumbling around in the dark. I was really happy with the end result, especially with the milky white ocean inducing a dream-like image.
Here’s another from my first year of night shooting. I had just wrapped up shooting a Sunflower maze at night when another photographer I was with had mentioned an old house up the road. I was about 2 hours from home, and had to get up early for my full time job the next day, but I didn’t want to pass this up. I’m glad I didn’t. I do wish I still had the original file so I could go back and retouch a few things, but the gremlins in my computer lost it.
Here we have my most recent Milky Way photo, which has become one of my personal favorites. This was taken around 3:30 AM, and I had no intention of staying up that late. When mother nature cooperates, I felt I had to seize the opportunity. The moon had just set so the stars were easily visible, and there were no clouds. The “photographers high” kicked in and I kept shooting. Fun fact – The light in the picnic area was created with my flashlight that I placed behind the center pillar.
When I go out at night with the intention of capturing the Milky Way or star trails, I make sure the moon isn’t up. That doesn’t mean you can’t shoot at night when it is out. You may get less stars in the sky since the moonlight washes them out, but you can make things really stand out. There was a slight breeze that night, so all of the tall grass was swaying in the wind and made for a neat foreground.
I was on a late afternoon photo walk at this location and I had wanted to do a quick star trail shot before I left. This is the result of 113 photos taken in a time span of 30 minutes. I plan on going back this season for another, longer session.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did creating them. These types of shots take a lot of time and patience both in the field, and editing. I also plan on setting up a few night photography teaching sessions this year.
Stay tuned for more details!!!