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Photography Question 
Kix  Pix

Photos Depicting Star Trails

For those of you - Peter and others - who have made the infamous star streak photos, what was your set-up like? Exposure time? Set-up? As for your location, how dark was it? How did you see in total darkness? Did you use any flash? At what time in your exposure?

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5/7/2004 5:43:28 PM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  James: You mean long exposures at night (e.g. 20 minutes) of the sky, including stars? The stars are not pinpoints of light in such images, but rendered as streaks of light. The longer the exposure, the longer the streaks ("star trails"). Stars may not move but Earth does, during your long exposure. You cannot use flash in such photography. Exposure times are a guesstimate based on experience, or suggestions found in articles such as:

Search for other articles using and the keywords Night photography star trails. Cheers!

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5/9/2004 8:06:53 AM

Sharon E. Lowe
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/7/2002
  James - Peter gave some good advice. To add a bit more to answer your questions, you just need a location where you can see the stars so it can be in a city as long as the sky is clear enough for you to see the stars. To get the perfect circles, you need to find the north star (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere) and point your camera toward it. Unless you want to do tons of work in PS, you are best to use film to capture star trails; digital cameras can't take such long exposures and you would have to do multiple exposures (say 3 minutes each) and then stack them to get decent star trails. When I do my night photography, I always have a small pocket-sized flash with me - I use it to see my settings and I will use it with a reflector if I want to do any light painting. With star trail images, you can do some light painting if you have foreground items in your image. Good luck and do that google search!

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5/11/2004 3:38:04 AM

Kix  Pix   Maybe light painting is what I'm thinking of.
I'm sure you've seen the famous star streaked photo where there are tents in the photo and it looks as if the tents have a light on inside of them. Is this "light painting"?

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5/21/2004 1:38:48 AM

Sharon E. Lowe
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/7/2002
  James - you can do that by just having a lantern or other light on in the tent. Light painting is when you take your light and use it like a paintbrush to lighten up or color something in your image. Go to this URL and you will find some amazing images that were painted with light if you page through the various galleries - 2 and 3 have some incredible images:

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5/21/2004 3:48:29 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  The tents do have a light inside them. With an exposure from 20 minutes to a hour, you get the stars coming out as streaks of light. With that kind of an exposure, a small battery powered lamp will make a tent look like you get a glow coming from the inside.

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5/21/2004 7:40:40 AM

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