• Jan Hunter

Shooting Star Trails

Try your hand at photographing star trails. You will need:

  • A sturdy tripod

  • A wide angle lens

  • Time lapse intervalometer

  • Timer Remote Shutter Release £15-£20 eBay

  • Compass or App

Some cameras such as Olympus will do the stacking and timing of the shots in camera, doing away with the software and timer shutter release.

Use your compass/app to find North and the pole star. Your stars will appear to revolve around the pole star. Set up your tripod with camera on top and frame your shot. If you want, you can use some foreground for scale. I shoot in JPEG Adjust focus to infinity. I use live view to zoom in to the max, to fine tune my focus, so the stars appear as points of light. Lock focus in manual, so it won’t change between shots. Set your camera to manual and dial in the widest aperture (smallest f number) you can, a shutter speed of 30 secs and ISO 3200. Take a shot. If the star streaks are dark, raise the ISO until you are happy. Set your time-lapse remote shutter to fire every 5 mins for 3 hours. Start your timer and go and have a cuppa or wrap up well if you want to stay!

At the end of the process you should have 36 images. You can set your time lapse to shoot at shorter interval to give you more images over the 3 hours. I stack my images in Photoshop but there are other stacking software. StarStax is one, it's worth checking if Elements or Affinity allow stacking or maybe Google stacking software? The software will blend all the shots into one. As it includes only the lightest part of the image, the foreground will stay the same (provided the camera never moved). Enjoy and have fun!

Graham Quinn

Going Digital North West

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