Photography is all about being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.
That means, we can say that it takes a lot of planning, efforts and preparation when it comes to the great photography.
To make amateur photographers life easy, here is a photography guide in “choosing locations for your next star trail photography”
So what exactly is Star Trail Photography?
Star Trail Photography involves a long duration shutter speed to capture images of stars
Here is a complete guide to star trail photography.
The images are captured using camera placed on a tripod and the lens focused at the night sky full of stars. The thing to keep in mind is that, it needs a lot of patience and time to take a perfect star trail pictures.
The camera is placed while keeping the shutter open for some duration of time and as the time passes, the camera captures the movement of the stars in the sky, which makes it appear like a trail of the stars. Usually the exposure time can take over 15 minutes to infinite hours determined on how the person wants the star trail arc in the image.
Star Trail Photography can be done by two methods – Multiple stacked and Single Exposure. If anyone wants the image more stacked or want to create a noise with the star trail, they use multiple stacked. But, if a person wants to keep the image clear and noise free then can opt for single exposure.
Most of the photographers capture the star trail on the celestial pole, to get a 360 degree star trail arc. Although, they wait for a quite long time to take an excellent picture of the trail arc.
Star Trail Photography is due to rotation of the earth and it records the apparent position of the stars or any other celestial elements.
What is the best location for Star Trail Photography?
Perfect location matters while capturing the star trail because the landscape where the star trail photography covers makes the image more attractive and beautiful.
Whenever you are planning to capture a Star Trail arc, keep in mind that the sky should be clear and can see the twinkling stars properly. If the sky is not clear, then better to wait for it to get pollution free.
As suggested, the sky should be clear, that means without presence of clouds, fog, smoke, dirt, street lights, etc. It’s better to select a place far away from the city,, somewhere high or on the hilly side, where there will be no disturbances and hurdles.
Obviously, nobody wants to shoot a star trail under polluted sky, but there are many other atmospheric interferences occur in between, where the air and humidity becomes the main annoyance.
Locations can be any, depends on the environment of your choice, but places at high altitude like mountains, hills, valley or riverside works better to take an ideal star trail arc shot. Even the roof of the house can take a good image of star trail, when the sky is clear.
How to choose best location for Star Trail Photography
Whenever, you are planning night photography, the first and foremost thing is, to select a place with a good environment. Choosing a place far away from the city lights will be an amazing choice to take an ideal photograph of star trail.
Basically, it is advised to select the landscape which is high up, from where you can capture the gorgeous star trail arc shot.
Few Tips for Star Trail Photography
- Select the landmark far away from the city
Select the place which is far away from the city, find a remote location with no artificial lights. This will let you take a good image of the star trail.
- Sky should be dark and clear
The sky should be clear for taking a good star trail image. For this, first thing you do to check the weather forecast for the location you have selected. Because, cloudy sky cannot work good while night photography. Also, check the other interferences occur in the sky, new moon day is the best time to take ideal star trail photography.
- Look for an interesting location
Landmarks like mountains, trees, abandoned places, forts ruins, deserts, hills, etc. which are away from the pollution and lights can be the best locations to photograph star trail. Because these place are quiet to take a perfect photograph of the star trail, without any disturbances. Also, captivating landmarks give stunning effect to the picture.
Things to consider before star trail photography
One of the important thing to be consider before planning Star Trail is the Moon Phase.
Moon light plays an important role in star trail photography so you must understand and consider the moon phase before choosing the correct time for star trail.
- New Moon Phase
‘New moon’ or ‘no moon’ is perfect to capture the star trails, as there is no moon so, the sky will be the darkest and we can see as many dim stars. It is best for taking single exposure star trail photography. However, new moon day is also great for capturing the concentric rings around the centric pole.
- Waxing Crescent (First Quarter Moon)
This phase is also good to take the perfect star trails shot, as the moon doesn’t get much brighter at this duration. Also, single exposure star trail can be taken during first quarter moon.
- Full Moon
Darker is the sky, more stars can be seen and brighter is the sky, fewer star are seen. So, Full moon can’t be the good time to take the perfect star trails because the sky becomes brighter due to moon and many stars gets invisible.
- Waning Gibbous (Third Quarter)
During waning Gibbous, the moon loses its illumination and lights get diminishes. So at this phase the sky will be less bright like the first quarter.
It can take number of hours and many shots to get a perfect star trail shot. Generally, exposure time can take 15 minutes to as many hours or can say the whole night, depending on how you want your final image.
Though the star trail photography can also be done when moon is present and the stars those appear in the presence of moonlight will give amazing filter to the photo. Long exposure and multiple stacked can create more concentric rings.
For example- 15 to 25 seconds with one exposure will give normal image but as the time increase with exposures and stacked results in an amazing star trails. However, Shutter speed – 30 – 60 seconds Wide-apertures f/5.6 or f/4 are recommended for star trails.