Creating star trails can be a fun and creative way to add interest and intrigue to your night sky images. They do take quite a bit of time and patience to create in the field as well as in post processing, so keep that in mind as you prepare for the task. Below are a few tips as you click the picture star trail images.

1) Prepare the right Gear: A sturdy tripod is essential for while clicking star trails as you will need your tripod to stay focus in one place for extended periods of time. An intervalometer is also a recommended tool for star trails. If clicking 30 second movement, you can use your in camera intervalometer but if you want to click longer than 30 second movement, you’ll need to be in bulb mode and use an external intervalometer.  A wide angle lens will be the best choice for capturing those vast night skies.

2) Find Dark Skies & Clear Nights – Dark and clear skies are needed for bright star trails night. Look for nights without moon interference and no clouds. I love using the Sun Surveyor app to find information for the moon phase, rise and set. Despite clear skies being ideal, I wouldn’t shy away from clicking pictures if there are a few clouds about. This image below is one of my very favorite star trail images and there were clouds interspersed with the stars.

3) Long Trails or Short trails?  Choose the effect you are going for. If you want to get many long and continuous trails of stars, you will need to clicking pictures for a long time, at least 30 minutes but ideally an hour or longer. For shorter trails where the star trails .

4) Movement of Time – To decide on your Movement time, consider what effect you are going for. You could take a click one very long Movement, or you could click the picture many 30 second Movement and stack them together in Photoshop to create the trails. There are a few benefits to the shorter movement. First, you can more easily check your movement with a test click and adjust before you set the camera to taking a picture for minutes, or hours. Second, if random light comes in and messes up an movement, it can be easier to fix than if you have had your movement running for an hour’s time. And third, you also have static star click the picture in addition to the trails. This leaves you more options for using these various exposures in post processing from static star images, short trails, longer trails or even a time lapse.

5) Switch to Manual Focus – Make sure you have your camera in manual focus so that your camera is not trying to focus during the many star captures.

6) Scout Location during the Day – Use the daytime to find a great location with interesting foreground to add to your star trail image. Heading out with a plan will greatly increase your chances of success!

7) Be Creative! While there are techniques that will help you succeed in getting focused and well movement star trail images, try to experiment and be creative.

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