The other night, I set up my camera to take continuous photos from 4am to almost 6am. My intent was to capture meteors from the Lyrid meteor shower scheduled to peak that morning. I took 248 shots and only got three or four decent meteors. Needless to say, the show was not as spectacular as most thought it would be.
The weather was excellent and the sky was crystal clear so I couldn't let these shots go to waste. I combined them to form some pretty cool looking star trails. Below I will tell you how I did this.
I typically us a Nikon D610 full frame DSLR and for night sky shots a Rokinon 14mm lens. For this shot, I used a tripod and an intervalometer to take multiple long exposures. I set up the intervalometer to capture 248 photos, 25 seconds each and set the camera at f/2.8, ISO 2,000 and “bulb” mode. I turned on the intervalometer at 4am and went back to bed.
Getting the star trails takes several steps beginning of course with taking the pictures but that is only half the work. Once the photos were taken and downloaded to my computer, I opened them in Photoshop, about 60-70 at a time because any more than that was really giving my computer fits. Keep in mind that these are RAW photos at very high resolution so the file size of each was about 28MB. My Windows computer, although very new and fairly powerful was having difficulty with that much processing at a time.
I processed all of the shots in Adobe Camera RAW and then converted them to high quality JPEGS in Photoshop. It took about 4 hours total to accomplish this. Once they were JPEGS, I opened them in a plug in of Photoshop called Waguila Star Stacker. This script can be obtained free of charge on the internet and does most of the rest of the work for you.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about how I took this photo. Please feel free to ask questions and make comments below or through my contact page.