Monday, May 26, 2014

Meteor shower 2014 - How to take star trail photography

Once again guys thanks for visiting my ungky dugly random blog of a expat living in dubai. The time was passing by and the meteor shower of the decade came at last. We - I mean a group of like minded photographic enthusiast went on a Trip to Kalba desert for capturing the guest who are visiting once in a decade.

We set up our camera and kept clicking. finally around the midnight few meteors showed up but didn't meet our expectations. I kept my camera in time interval shooting mode after focusing it around the north pole. Expecting that the meteor shower may happen in that direction.

Unfortunately the meteor shower didn't caught up in ny shot of the camera. But I managed to make a star trail photography. Anyway that did payoff the efforts I guess. :) cheers.

How to do a star trail photography.

Step : 1 - Scout the area the day before.

You are probably going to take a star trail in the middle of night where there is no absolute no light around. The light pollution from the city scape building and street light create light pollution and you will not be able to take any good picture. The light from the surrounding will be scattered all over the atmosphere. You will not get any stars. So scout the area in a day time. understand the good position for you so that in the night you will not be taking much time to get settle down.

Before picking the day for the star trail, go through the weather reports. Sky should be cool with no clouds. There should not be moonlight because it will scatter all the sky and you will be able to spot a single star.
Less dust pollution and dry windy air are the best time to go.

Step : 2 - Gather your gears.

b) Wide angle lens - 18 mm will do fine. Lesser the better area you can cover.
c) Tripod. - A good one. Without and loose ends.
d) Shutter release cable / remote
e) Additional battery - if needed.
f) A flashlight - small one will do fine

other things you can take along with you is
a) Picnic chair
b) Snaks & Drinks

Step : 3- Set up your camera

Make sure the tripod is fixed firmly on the ground. If it moves you entire night could get spoiled. Connect your camera and select the camera in manual mode. Put the focal length on the minimum and put the focus point at infinity/ near infinity. Please note that certain lens can go even beyond infinity also. Just make sure by taking some sample shot and zoom in to see the star and clear cut pixelated and not blurred.

Normal setting i do for star trail is

ISO : 800/1600
Shutter speed : 30 sec
Aperture : less than f4.5

Once you set the focus of the lens. Connect the shutter release cable if needed.

Step 4 : Start Clicking

If you have time interval shooting mode available. You can enable that mode. The you don't have to keep clicking all the time. The camera will take the picture and you can continue relaxing with your snacks or talk.

Step 5: Composing the images in photoshop

The ultimate aim is to get a series of continues images. Like 100 or 200 images without changing the position of the camera from the tripod. Once we collect all these pictures from your camera in your computer, we will have to do stacking procedures in photoshop.

Open photoshop. Click File - Scripts - load files into stack.

It will open a window named load layers. Click Browse and Select all the images and press OK
It will take some time to process all the images into layers.

Once it is loaded. you have goto the layers menu and convert each layer to lighten mode. as shown below. You have to convert each and every layers.

then you will see the image like a star trails. Once 'lighten' is done to all layers. right click the layers and click flatten image.

This will create a single image which shows all the trails together. 
Now you can adjust contrast, brightness, hue, saturation, curves etc. as you like. This will be our final image. 
And that s how we do post processing in star trails photography

Please add you comments. Share or suggest modifications. Thank you for your time. 
If you would like to have a look at my photography blog please go to 

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