My son and I got our cameras out on a starry night over Labor Day Weekend. We were on the water right at the tip of Cattle Point on San Juan Island. Fishing boats were gathering in the bay for refueling and some to spend the night right in front of the cabin. About 12 boats rendezvoused with flood light on and diesels running–lighting up the water.
Troy and I had always talked about wanting to capture star trails–but neither of us know much about how to go about that. On the first night we tried to set the exposure for f/16 and “bulb”. The bulb setting we discovered doesn’t work well unless you have a “bulb” trigger or a remote trigger to open the shutter and close it again. We wanted to leave it open longer than 30 seconds which is the longest setting on our cameras for shutter speed. We got what looked like some leakage in the upper corners of the images when taking long exposures. We have no idea what this is caused by–but know that it happens even when using a different more powerful lens. The light in the corners shows up more when we lighten the exposure in editing–but we see more stars too. This is another part of the puzzle we have no clue about–how do you edit star trails. For the most part we tried the best we could to get the stars in focus. This really helps the image–so we know we were on the right track at least about focusing. While we really wanted to capture star trails –we got to playing around with light painting. I think we were like kids in a candy shop playing with light. At times we just pointed the lens to the lightest part of the sky at 10 o’clock at night and took a long exposure to see what would happen. It is amazing that there is light in the sky at that time of night. We are in the Pacific Northwest and the summer hours of light are really quite long. Below are our experiments, while not the least bit professional in any way, they are what they are–just images captured by a couple of amateurs, wondering how it night photography is done. Our first try–ISO 400, f/16, 50mm, 2749 sec shutter speed (about 46 minutes). Troy taped a Skittle to the button on the camera to hold open the shutter for a longer length of time than 30 seconds. I had a remote trigger and had read on the internet that we had to use a bulb trigger or the remote to trip the shutter open and closed for longer lengths of time. We did that for the rest of the timed shots.
It is probably about 9 pm. We were using a flashlight to read the LED for our settings so in this image I shined the flashlight on the trees farther away. The red tinted tree limbs are catching the light from the fire. The more green limbs have been “painted” by the light of the flash light. ISO 400, 48 secs, f/4.5, 18mm
ISO 400, 13.0 secs, 70mm, f/4.5 . A quick shot of the stars. The tree is being lite by the floods from the boats. The stars appear to be many different colors. Since this was a shorter exposure we didn’t get the light in the corners.
Another just a star shot through the trees. We were trying to capture a bit of the Milky Way. The trees are catching the light from the boats. Again the light in the corners. ISO 400, 119sec, 18mm, f/4.5.
W changed lenses to my 70-200 f/2.8. It was much easier to focus on the boats. ISO 400, 200mm, f/4.5, .5 sec. The boats were so lit up, the shutter speed had to be fast so the lights wouldn’t glare and obscure the boats.
ISO 400, F/4.5, 70mm, 194 sec.
Obviously we have a ways to go to know what we are doing. I have no idea why we kept the ISO at 400 and didn’t change the aperture much either. I think we got caught up in the light and how it appeared in the image. We will try it again and again because we had so much fun trying to get the images we wanted. Thanks for stopping by.