Looking to photograph star trails? Here are some handy tips for pro-level results:
Equipment: DSLR; tripod; cable release or remote.
1. Find a location far from light pollution on a cloudless and dry night.
2. Mount your DSLR on the tripod; compose the shot with some stationary elements in it — mountains, trees, tent, etc — and preferably with the North Star within the frame (as the northern celestial polar centre, stars will rotate counter-clockwise around this point). Ensure the moon is not, and will not be, in your shot; New Moon Phase offers the least amount of light pollution.
3. On “Manual” mode, open aperture to maximum; set shutter speed to “bulb;” use 100 or 200 ISO.
4. Lock autofocus on a bright star, then switch to manual focus (don’t change focal point).
5. Open the shutter (via remote) and leave open for 60 to 180 minutes. Voila, star trails!
6. Be a Star Trail Pro: Rather than one long exposure, which can introduce digital noise, shoot a series of 30-second exposures in succession for 60 minutes or more. Use Photoshop (or similar program) to “stack” the images on your computer for pro-level, noise-less results.
Note: Long exposures devour battery power. Pack an extra.