The Sky at Night - Star Trails

Multiple Exposure Star Trail 2013

Multiple Exposure Star trail
Multiple Exposure Star trail

I waited a very long time for the summer sky to clear over here in Germany.

This multiple exposure was taken a bit late and started at 01:00 a.m. and

finished at 04.27 a.m., further shots should have been taken but one of the

batteries was duff, but not to worry as this was just a test shoot, in preparation

for the big Meteor showers that are expected soon. from this shooting i had to

delete around 150 exposures due to the sun rising.


The First attempt - Taken from my back Garden 2012

I have always preferred to take low light long exposures, but I have never tried to do Star trails the photo below was made from multiple exposures stacked together, it was the first one I created, it is no way near perfect but I am happy with the result, it has also inspired me to continue and experiment more in this field.


The Camera settings:

Lens wide angle

Manual focus

Image Stabilization: Off

Drive: continuous

Quality: JPG Large

Aperture: F3.5

Iso 800 - 2000 (on multiple star trails)

Shutter Speed 30 seconds

White balance: Daylight

Remote timer: interval every 35 seconds (to cover the exposure time!)


The location for this experiment had taken place from my back garden, as I live very secluded with no other interfering light sources.

The camera was set pointing just off Polaris, and having had the camera set up beforehand I just let the camera take the shots every 30 seconds for 1 Hour.


The foreground was the last exposure taken, and painted with a heavy duty tungsten lamp, and in my opinion it produced to much light.

Star Trail 1
Star Trail 1

The 2nd Experiment - By The Lake Side

Click to Enlarge.

Star Trail over the Lake
Star Trail over the Lake

This was my second attempt on making a Star Trail over this Lake.
A total of 210 exposures x 30 Seconds where made, Starting at Midnight until 2am.
In this period of time several airplanes and comets came into view, but due to the long exposures they hardly show up.


Camera & Lens Nikon D90 + 18mm Lens
Manual focus
Image Stabilization: Off
Manual Mode

Drive: continuous
Quality: JPG Large
Aperture: F3.5
Iso 640 the last 5 exposures Iso 1000
Shutter Speed 30 seconds
White balance: Auto manually adjusted to get more blue
Remote timer: interval every 2 seconds


Star Trail 3
Star Trail 3

Settings as before except this time i reduced the ISO setting to 400.

I pointed the camera lower and just off Polaris, in order to capture the lake.

The Bush was painted using a Cree led torch on the last exposure.


Durring this series of exposures, two Airplanes came into view, and the camera noise attracted a bat that kept hovering in front of the lens but fortunatly none can be seen in the final image.

The 3rd Experiment - Star Trail & Time Lapse

Star Trail 4
Star Trail 4

This being my 3rd attempt and having waited weeks for the night sky to clear, I decided to do another Star trail shoot, with the exception that it wasn't my intention to capture breath taking images, but to try and use the weather as well and then stack the images to produce a Time lapse video.

Several adjustments had to be made in order to get the video right.

The foreground had to be lit up permanently for the Time Lapse video, where as this would only be lit on the final shot for a Star trail shoot.

30 Sec exposure

ISO 400

F-stop 4

2 Hundred Shots over a period of 2.5 Hours time was used, I wanted to make it longer but had to abandon this shoot due to a heavy rainfall.

Points to note: I am not entirely happy will the video result, first of all the movement of the clouds blocked the star trail and looks as though it stuck on a frame.

The software I used to create the Time lapse in 16:9 cropped the images on the lower part. (Windows Live Movie Maker)

Lessons learned: Check the Weather forecast first!

4th Attempt Star Trail & Time Lapse

I am now getting addicted to making Star trails, but I forgot to check the weather forecast again.

The sky was clear and dark, the stars shone like never before over that last two weeks, The camera was already set up raring to go, after taking a few test shots I had to change the camera settings (ISO 1600 F4).

I initially wanted to do 3 hours worth of 30 sec exposures, but was forced to abandon it again as the clouds came in and completely blocked out the stars. a total of 164 exposures where made. 

I started at 23.30Hrs but as you can see the clouds came into view and an unexpected light source reflected off the clouds thus polluting the sky.


The last Experiment Star Trail

It was a perfect clear night sky, I waited for the remaining ambient light to disappear and set the camera to ISO 800 F3.5.

The camera took a total of 377 Shots in total, starting from 01:00Hrs - 04:30 (When I woke up LOL!). 150 shots were taken with the sun rising which polluted the long Star trail.


The Photo below is the result trail & Error and comprises of 222 images stacked together, you can see shooting stars captured in this photo.


The Experimental phase has now come to an end, I will make a Tutorial and Time Lapse Video for this one soon. I will also be using this method of photography in the near future on other locations.


All the photos were taken with a Nikon D90 with a 18 mm Lens, because it was the only camera that i was prepared to risk leaving outdoors for such a long time with the weather being as it was.


I have added a comments section at the bottom of the page, please let me know what you think of this gallery.

The Final Experiment comprising of 222 Stacked Images
The Final Experiment comprising of 222 Stacked Images
2am till Dawn
2am till Dawn

Write a comment

Comments: 9
  • #1

    C Parry (Saturday, 11 August 2012 16:02)

    Congratulations on bringing us with you on your successful capture of these star trails.
    Love your work and look forward to your next adventure

  • #2

    Shirley Leslie (Sunday, 12 August 2012 12:26)

    Well done Kevin. It's lovely that we can have the opportunity to appreciate your work.

  • #3

    Kevin Moore (Sunday, 12 August 2012 13:03)

    Thank you Cathy & Shirley, as you can see this gallery was just the starting point. i do have a few new ideas and locations where i would like use this method.
    I am glad you liked them, it was fun to do.


  • #4

    Jey C Moore (Sunday, 12 August 2012 15:46)

    ♥♥♥JUST LOVING IT !!!!♥♥♥

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