Everything didn’t go to plan!

Star Trail Photo Project Part 1

During the current Covid-19 lockdown, I thought I would revisit star trail photography. It had been about 9 years since I had previously attempted this and that wasn’t a great success either!

Apart from the fact that I was for, all intents and purposes shut in doors, the conditions were very favourable. Clear starry skies with a new moon just rising. From my balcony there was no obvious light pollution except from the nearest house. I reckoned by the time I was taking the photos the occupants would be well wrapped up in bed.

Having re-read all my notes and research on the best settings and approaches, I headed out on to the balcony to setup. I remembered my torch and tripod so all was good. I decided to use my Fuji X100t as it had the widest lens I currently had available.

This little wonder of a camera is rarely out of my reach, so I was confident I knew how to get everything set up. I manually set iso, aperture shutter speed and focus. took a couple of test shots to be sure everything was ok then set up the onboard intervalometer. This bit of tech is pretty much essential for this type of photography. Basically it’s a fancy timer that takes a specified number of shots, over a period of time with a predetermined gap between each exposure. Typing this now makes perfect sense, but on the night in-question, I managed to mis-interpret how to set it up in a big way.

I had studied what other photographers recommended, consulted the wonderful Photo Pills app  to get further advise and did the maths. I would take, or rather my trusty Fuji would take, 360 shots each with an exposure of 25 seconds over a 3 hour period. It’s necessary to take this many photographs so that when you combine them in post production you get the spiral effect of the star trails that you’re after. So far so good.

This is where everything went wrong. Instead of setting up an interval between each exposure, I set the intervalometer up for the full duration of the project. So instead of setting an interval of 5 seconds between each exposure, I set the intervalometer with an interval of 3 hours between each exposure! The result was I got 3 photos of a very standard starry night sky and one totally overexposed shot of a bright sunny morning! 

After a fair bit of head scratching I realised why things had gone so badly wrong and consoled myself that I could give it all another go that very night, as the weather continue to hold and clear skies were forecast once more, which in itself was quite something for the West Coast of Scotland in April!

Part 2 coming soon!