This is part two to my weekend at Lake Tahoma! After a nice Friday evening of showing some of my friends the basics of light painting, I was ready to try something new. I’d wanted to try this technique for a long time but living so close to the city lights of Charlotte, I never had a location with dark enough skies… That’s right, I was going to try my hand at STAR TRAILS on beautiful Lake Tahoma!

This was a five minute exposure of the lake taken the night before from the deck where I captured the star trails.

This was a five minute exposure taken the night before from the dock where I captured the star trails.

If you don’t know what star trails are, they are the photos you see where the night sky is full of bright lines moving. Wikipedia defines a star trail as a type of photograph that utilizes long-exposure times to capture the apparent motion of stars in the night sky due to the rotation of the Earth. A star trail photograph shows individual stars as streaks across the image, with longer exposures resulting in longer streaks.

With all of my time waiting to take a star trail photo, I had the opportunity to research the best ways to capture these photos. I had purchased an intervalometer, which allowed me to continuously take long exposure photos over several hours. This allowed me to shoot at a higher ISO and a wider aperture, without getting the noise of an extended long digital exposure. I was going to be doing a stacked, composite star trail – Which means I would take all of my many individual long exposures and combine them to get a single photo showing the combined trails created by the Earth’s rotation.


Watch this video to see the stars move across the sky in all 239 photos. Then enjoy the stars animate into the final stacked image.

All in all, I thought my first star trail turned out well. I noticed some things that I will be able to improve upon the next time I attempt one. For one thing, after about a half hour my lens gathered some condensation and so my shots appeared foggy and blurred, but once I discovered the foggy lens, I attempted to wipe it clean and although I did a good job holding the lens in place while wiping it, it still moved just a hair, which was visible in the overall photo. That is what caused the disconnected star trails.

I am super excited for my next star trail session which I will be attempting in a few weeks during a camping trip in the mountains! I will keep you all posted on the results.