How to create your own star trail image
There are two routes to follow when creating a star trail image. The one technique is to shoot one long exposure image and the other is shooting many 30-second exposures at high ISO settings and stacking them together in tailor made software such as StarStax. Maryna takes you through both.
This technique needs very little post-production but produces noise-related challenges that are associated with long exposures in general. Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and that you have the camera’s noise reduction switched on when using this technique. As a guideline, try not to use apertures that are too small (f/11 – f/22) as they will let relatively little light into the camera and will produce skinny star trails. A good starting point is f/8 with a recommended ISO of 100 or 200.
Stacking in post-production
To create a series of shots for the purpose of stacking them together in post, you’ll need to take a sufficient number of photographs. For example, to make a half-hour star trail image you would need to take 60 thirty-second exposures one after the other. In this case, you will need to switch off your camera’s ‘Long Exposure Noise Reduction’. Set a 30-second shutter speed and set the camera to continuous shooting and trigger it with a cable release that you lock once you have triggered it. You would then simply wait until the half-hour is up. Maryna also recommends that you take a ‘Dark Slide’ (same shutter speed with the lens cap on) once your series of photographs is complete. This ‘Dark Slide’ will be used by the software that blends the individual layers to reduce noise. Recommended settings for stacks are f/5.6 with an ISO of 3200 and a 30-seconds shutter speed.