Low-No Light Project, Winter 15/16 - markhumpage
8mm Star Trail

8mm Star Trail

4.5 hours of Earth's spin as shown through the stars. Spinning around the North Pole star 'Polaris' this composite image comprises over 1000 long exposures.

To capture this 'No Light' scene I mounted the camera on a tripod and set up the composition such that the Oak tree was pointing towards the North star Polaris (This ensures the full star-spinning effect). Set the focus to manual and shoot a few test images to ensure subject fits & is level (using LCD screen). Once I was happy with the composition and using the remote cable (set to lock - which forces the camera to shoot continuous exposures) I set the camera off. Make sure you switch off the lcd to maximise battery life. This allowed the camera to shoot continuous for 6 hours (using battery pack). The tree was lit up using a technique called light painting. During the first few exposures I shone a strong torch over the tree and 'painted' with light. This helps bring daylight to a 'No Light' scene. Although the moon was pretty bright and assisted with ambient lighting (Moon rays just started to creep into the exposure top left).

It was a very cold night (-1C) and the camera was frozen following the shoot. Before taking the camera back indoors I popped the camera into a plastic bag to allow the air temperature inside the bag to reach ambient room temperature without damaging the camera (air inside bag remains dry). Half hour later I transferred all 1000 images (High res JPEG) to MAC and imported in StarStax software. This very useful (& free) software easily produces a single composite image. One thing you will get when shooting these multiple composite images (depending on where the shot is taken) is plane trails running across the image. It can spoil the final composite & I prefer to remove, again using software (Pixelmator).

The resulting image reveals 4.5 hrs of Earth spinning, as shown through the stars.

CAMERA: Olympus OM-D, E-M5II
LENS: Zuiko Digital ED 8mm
ACCESSORIES: Olympus Remote Control RM-UC1
SETTINGS: Manual, ISO 400, F1.8, 15s. Resolution LN (4608x3456)

TIP: Try to avoid very bright moon phases when taking Star Trails as they can create flare and/or undermine star brightness.

low lightstarsstartrailpolarisnorth starheavensnightskydarktreeCotesbachLutterworthOlympusOMDEM5II