It's not my normal thing, but sometimes I just can't resist it...
Here's a shot taken in Sullivan County, New York last Christmas. The distant glow is from a neighbor's house. To the best of my memory it was around twenty-five or thirty minutes at f/5.6 on Fuji Pro 160S with a 105 mm Nikkor-W lens on 4x5. The finer star trails are lost on the web reproduction, as is the flashing of the plane's lights just above the tree line on the left (though the continuous red line of its port nav light is just visible). The 105 doesn't cover 4x5 very well at f/5.6, but it was the widest I had with me.
PS You probably know this, but you must focus on infinity to the best of your ability. Because a star is a point source, any spreading of the light, even by a small amount, is a bad thing.
Last edited by Helen B; 11-04-2006 at 06:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If you are willing to stand and watch for the entire exposure, you can use the "hat trick" used for long shutter speeds in the early days, covering the lens with a black cup or putting a paddle covered with black felt or velvet in front of the lens whenever a plane comes through your field of view. (I know Helen knows this, but I thought it might be a useful idea to mention for beginners.)
Originally Posted by Helen B
I've seen star trail photos taken with the lens covered/uncovered in a pattern that spells out callsigns or other words in Morse code dots and dashes. That one's for copake_ham.
The full moon will introduce serious sky fog from scattering in the atmosphere. It's much better to do star trails near the new moon.
Akira Fuji, a frequent contributor to Sky&Telescope magazine, uses Softar filters to make his brighter stars "bloom", and his medium format photos more closely approach the impression of relative brightness received by the naked eye.
Very nice shot Helen.
Originally Posted by Helen B
I made some star trail photographs back in the 80's on Fujichrome 50 and 100 and Kodachrome 25 and 64. So high speed films are not necessary, at least in my experience.
Star trails in B&W
I've done a few, including a couple with FP4 which I believe suffers even more from reciprocity failure. In effect, reciprocity failure can actually help you by combating the background sky glow from light polution. The stars themselves are actually quite bright. However, for the person trying this tonight under a full moon: forget it. You need a dark sky.
A stop or two from full open is good, f/11 is probably too closed and you will lose most of the fainter stars.
Another tip is a red filter can actually help reduce the light polution from artificial illumination, seeing you're using B&W film.
Also, as Helen has said, focus is not as obvious as it seems at first. If you are using 35mm lenses, know that they usually focus quite a bit beyond infinity, and you won't see a darn difference in the view finder unless you have some serious magnification. (Tip: Google for "Hartman Mask" to construct a quick and dirty focusing aid)
Final piece of advice: tripping the shutter, and then going inside to wait out the two hour exposure usually ends up with you waking up on the couch... around 10 AM. Shutter still open of course.
Murphy's corollary to the above tip: Any cloudless clear night will immediately turn into a biblical deluge and/or hurricane Katrina the second you fall asleep.
Murphy's second corollary to the first corollary: if nothing else screws up, you haven't yet discovered what refraction does with dew.
Argh... have fun! You'll rip your hair out.
If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.
- Walker Evans on using color
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You said you had an F-3? I know when I was shooting sunrise at Mt Ranier, without the motor drive to provide power, the camera shut itself down due to cold. Temp goes down current draw goes up, camera will shutdown to protect circut. If it does you will be given only default shutter speed ( 1/90 ?)
About 1 h should give you the effect you want.
But for motion blur, I think that "tracking" is simpler and works best.
Have someone running in your yard and "follow" them with the camera, then shoot at 1/30 or 1/15 without stopping the follow trough motion.
It works fine with cars as well.
Mama took my APX away.....
Which reminds me of another standard caution for this kind of work. If you have an LED (or other light generating) meter readout in your SLR finder, be sure either to disable it or test for leakage onto the film during long exposures. I have one body with an electronic shutter in which I have to remove the battery before time exposures to avoid a red LED bleeding onto the film. Fortunately that body still has mechanical B and 1/100 sec shutter speeds with the battery removed.
Originally Posted by vet173
Don't worry about reciprocity failure. As the image of the star moves, it exposes the film for a small fraction of a second. Reciprocity failure actually helps darken the background sky. Star trails are best done away from urban lights on a moonless night. Otherwise, exposure is limited by the brightness of the sky. Here in a rural area with dark skies I got several hour star trails on Kodak Tech Pan film exposed beteween f/5.6 and f/8 and developed in Dektol for a few minutes.
Originally Posted by reub2000
Not really possible here. To the south the sky has a nice red glow. Light pollution for Chicago.
Originally Posted by Jim Jones