Home > Blog > October 18, 2017 – Star Trails, Bisti Wilderness, New Mexico, USA

October 18, 2017
Star Trails, Bisti Wilderness, New Mexico, USA

When the sky is clear, wait until the sun sets and shoot star trails! It also helps when the sliver of moon sets before sunset and won't rise until a couple of hours before sunrise.

This is the second star trail image I've made on this trip, and I changed how I photographed them from my first experience three years ago. The first thing I did differently was to use chemical hand warmers and an extra beanie to help keep the camera battery warm overnight. For this image, I used six hand warmers and it got down to about 40°F (4°C) overnight. The second thing I did differently was to set up the Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 to wait for 1.5 hours, then take a series of 12 minute exposures with only 5 seconds in between instead of 10 seconds like before. Also, after taking the foreground images, I put a fresh battery in the camera before starting the timer sequence.

I also changed how I processed the images. I processed the star images through Capture One with zero saturation (for B&W) and increased contrast like before, but this time I performed some noise reduction too. Then I loaded the images into Photoshop with the blending mode set to Lighten on all but the bottom image. Then I flattened the layers and ran Camera Raw noise reduction because all of that Lightening enhanced the remaining noise from the individual images. Then I performed "dust removal" to get rid of hot pixels and what was probably an airplane flying through the composition. Then I flattened it to have a single layer. After manually blending the foreground images, I brought in the star trails image and set its blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

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