Little glimpse of star trail

During the summer – early autumn, it’s not the easiest time to capture star. The sun set is rather late. This alone was enough to put me off from attempting one. But a friend of mine had dragged me out to do one after checking the weather.

Turns out, the field around observatory is a great place to do this. (duh) This was my first time doing star shoot around that area so I was little unsure, but it turned out to be a great location. The only gripe about the location is that because it is right next to the sports centre, we had to wait till they close to turn off the over-head lighting for the outdoor track. Hence, it had to be rather late.

This time, we met up at 23:00 with all our gears ready near the sports centre to scout the location. This time of the year is when the temperature and humidity varies quite rapidly throughout the day. And that particular day was rather humid while the temperature was dropping rapidly. This created rather inconvenient fog.

After nervously looking for the right path in rather dark field, we’ve arrived at the location. As our eyes got used to the darkness, we started to see the stars. It was simply astonishing. I always forget how beautiful the night sky is in St Andrews. That is, if the clouds happen to be not there that night. But when it is clear, this is one of the best place I know to see the star.

As we took couple test shots figuring out focus, exposure settings etc, couple of other friends joined. As we chatted we dialled in the setting further. And I began my long exposure. As the temperature further dropped, those who joined us had left, and it was just myself and the other friend who initially came out.

After a long wait, of about 45 minutes, which is probably the longest I’ve done, I nervously checked the image. And this is what I saw on the back of my camera:

Raw image before developing

I was quite excited. I could see the longest trail I’ve captured on single exposure. While I do understand ‘stacking’ is much better for noise performance but the sheer fact that it is captured like this to me is fascinating.

I continued to shoot at different angle for short 25 min exposure after that and that looked promising as well.

The next day, I sat down at my laptop and processed it properly with Lightroom:

45-min exposure at the observatory in St Andrews after processing

I think this worked out quite well. Hopefully, my next step will be to remember to shoot with tighter aperture and or to shoot with different focusing point for focus stacking… There is always more to try.

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