More adventures in star trail photography

Two weeks ago I started experimenting with star trails with a new camera. Since then the weather (again!) hasn’t cooperated as the last two weeks have been cloudy and rainy. Finally, this weekend the clouds broke and we had a beautiful starry night. Which gave me the chance to get the camera out. By now the Rokinon 12mm lens had arrived and boy did it not disappoint!

The Rokinon 12mm is a highly recommend lens for night sky and milky way photography. It’s completely manual but don’t let that deter you from grabbing one, it really is an excellent lens.

My plan was to frame the north star in the top left corner of the frame to capture the stars rotation around it, while also having the street in the bottom of the frame catching streaks of light as cars whizzed by, and capturing between 250-300 images. Unfortunately, I ended up with just over 100 usable frames. Somewhere around frame 100, I started seeing lens flare, seen in the photo below. Yes, I know, don’t do this in your front yard of a light polluted area of the city!

Lens flares in images

As I was going through the exposures in Lightroom, I noticed a fuzzy object in several of the frames. I wasn’t sure what it was until it hit me, so I pulled up Stellarium and ran the time backwards until it matched the time stamp on the image file. Sure enough, it was a very fuzzy galaxy, which turned out to be the Andromeda galaxy. It’s faint but you can see it in the photo below.

Surprise galaxy smudge

After filtering out the unusable frames I ended up with a little over 100 to be stacked into a star trail image. When combined into one image and processed in Photoshop, it ended up like this:

Star trails over Shenandoah

Did I like the results? I would have liked to have had more frames to stack but nothing in life is perfect so, I ‘m happy with the final result.

So far, I’m impressed with the Sony a6300. Granted, this is only the second time out with it but so far I’m loving it and am happy with the move away from the Canon DSLR.

This photo can also be seen on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/181868263@N05/48625938171