Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Star Trails at Grand Portage

Last weekend I joined Travis to do some star trail photography. Travis has made some amazing images at night so who better to learn some tricks of night time photography from.

Grand Portage, where Travis lives, is an excellent spot for star trails. It is far away from a really large metropolis, Thunder Bay is about 35 miles to the north and with long exposures casts a slight warm glow, and on a moonless night the quantity of stars is mind boggling. It reminds me of the time I spent looking at the heavens in the 70's at Lost Valley, a Boy Scout camp secluded in the mountains of Southern California.

We setup our cameras in Travis' yard, I attempted to focus as best as possible, opened the shutter then went inside to talk photography. This first exposure was at ISO 200, f/4.0 for 42 minutes using my 24-105mm lens at 24mm. During the exposure the dew had collected on the lens which made for an interesting blurring at the ends of each star trail.

The second image was made in Travis' back yard pointing right at the North Star. My EXIF information says the exposure was 3.8 minutes which obviously is not the case due to the length of the star trails. ISO was dropped to 100, everything else stayed the same, so I'd guess the exposure to be around 70-80 minutes. What I find amazing about this image is when viewed at 100% the sheer number of stars leaving trails is just astonishing. Living on the outskirts of a large metropolis like Minneapolis and St. Paul, the light obscures the awesomeness of what lies around us.

As Forrest Gump once said, actually it was his mother that said, 'Shooting star trails in like eating a box of chocolates...you never know what you're going to get', or something like that. Once you close the shutter there is a moment of anticipation just before hitting the review button to see what you get. It's a moment I'll be repeating again in the future.


(Be sure to click on the images to see a larger version.)

1 comment: