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.

Tahoma-trails

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.

-Johnny