Posted by: David Vernon | November 17, 2008

Stars and Straps Forever

Banner Marsh Stars 1The minute I thought of the title for the blog entry was well… a pinnacle for me personally and professionally. Just so you know.

The fine dude Matt and I were out doing star trails at Banner Marsh many weeks ago – before it got a little more fall like. I hadn’t dedicated myself to an evening doing this in, well, years. There’s no real magic to doing long-exposure star trail shots. You just need time – and preferably a dark place. A really dark place.

Photographer Peter Carey, writing over at DPS, has done an article on Star Trails. Go ahead and read it and then come back here for an addendum or two.

Okay – you’re good? Here’s some additional thoughts. His technique is to take a lot of shorter consecutive shots, and then composite them all together. I think that is valid but a lot of work. Imagine bumping your camera halfway through the process. His main complaint was “hot pixel” noise. You can remove almost all of that by turning on your long-exposure noise reduction. The cost for that – the exposures are twice as long. So this 18-minute exposure from Banner Marsh really took 36 minutes in camera. I think you should keep your ISO as low as you can – and compensate with aperture and shutter speed. The rules for metering don’t change. Meter on a spot in the sky and tweak everything to you get your exposure. Then start dialing down the ISO and dialing up the shutter speed until you get your ISO where you need it. Finally, you can open your aperture a little to save yourself some time. Twenty minutes at f/8 is the same as 10 minutes at f/5.6.

If you shoot for 30 seconds or less, you won’t see much movement in the stars, so you’ll have to stack numerous images and that starts to be a PITA. I haven’t tried Peter’s technique – I’m more inclined to go for the one exposure – but I’d love to hear from folks who have tried it.

That was the stars. Now for the straps. I’ve been hearing about R-Straps from all kinds of corners of the photo-blogging universe. They sound like heaven in the slightly obscure camera strap area. Here’s a review and here’s the company. As you all know, we’ve mentioned David duChemin on this blog a number of times. These guys are one of his sponsors and he writes about his experiences with the system here. Also – check out David’s post today. Although I’m diluting my chances, he’s running a little contest for a free one-week rental from my favorite lens-rental place. If I can’t win – maybe one of you can.

Stars and Straps Forever. You can’t beat sophistication.


  1. […] presented a technique just over a year ago that got into stacking – the idea of taking many shots over the same time period instead of just one. This has a […]

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