Star Trails photography

Weather conditions were perfect the other night for some Star Trails photography and as I had never actually tried this technique before I thought it was a good chance to have a go.  I used a Canon 40D camera and a Tokina 11-16mm lens but so long as your camera can take individual long exposure shots over a period of time then you should be good to go (if you wanted to).  DLSRs are not really suited to keeping the shutter open for a long time as you end up with hot spots on the image, so a more practical solution is to take a series of shorter exposed images over time.

Required kit
-Camera which can take continuous long exposure images over time
-Charged camera batteries
-Tripod – essential to keep the camera steady and pointing in the same direction
-A clear night  🙂

Additional kit
-Remote release used to keep the shutter release open – else you have to press the shutter release each time to take a shot
-Torch – basically to see where you are going in the dark  😉 
-Some foreground object, a tree perhaps or the top of a building .. etc

Setup
I tested the process in my back garden with the top of a tree as my foreground interest, then with the camera on a tri pod I set it to an exposure time of 30secons, ISO 400, F5.6 and auto white balance.  Focusing on the stars was done manually and I had a cable release for starting the shoot.  After a few test shots to check the settings I pressed the remote and set it to hold the shutter release; so although the camera is capable of taking 6 shots a second it was now taking 1 shot every 30 seconds 🙂  I then left it alone for just over an hour and ended up with 100+ photos.  I shot in RAW and used a 2gb card.
Note: When I decided enough was enough I shone the torch into the tree for the last two exposures, this brought some light to the foreground.  Then I released the shutter and stopped taking pictures.  The last thing you have to do is put the lens cap back on and take one more photo, will tell you why in a moment.

Process
Armed with all those photos I converted them from RAW to JPG (also tweeked the colours slightly) and then used startrails.exe (free software) to stitch all the photos together.  This is possible in photoshop, or a similar package but would take ages, where as with startrails you point the software to the folder containing your images and it does the rest.  Now, the image you took with the lens cap on — this is known as the “darkframe” in Startrails and useful for reducing image noise.

Result
You can see the first result on my Flickr page to the left hand side, however I wanted to share the process.

Microsoft LISTAS

Listas is a tool for the creation, management and sharing of lists, notes, favorites, and more. It allows you to quickly and easily edit lists, share them with others for reading or wiki-style editing, and discover the public lists of other users.  We encourage you to try using it for meeting notes, bookmarks, shopping lists, to plan a night out, or whatever other creative ways you can think of.

Windows Live ID or Passport account needed.

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An Inspirational Facebook application

The Inspire Me Facebook application does what it says on the tin … your friends can send you words of insipation to help you through your day, or to do those tasks, or to cheer you up.  This actually seems like an interesting idea with some potental !!!

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Has Flickr just been pwned ???

Follow a live .Mac web gallery link to see what iMac galleries are now offering …….. It’s very slick indeed…. Drag your cursor over a gallery to “flip” through its photos, and click anyone to view. Once you’ve entered a gallery, you’ve got several options. Choose a grid, carousel or mosaic layout (the carousel is **impressive**), or simply start a slideshow. You may also change the background’s color and resize any photo. Finally, you can subscribe to an album’s RSS feed, send to a friend or add photos (if you’ve got permission to do so).

I tried this on Firefox 2.0.0.4 on XP and it was very nice … I heard that it looks amazing on iphone (don’t have those in the UK yet) and I am sure it looks better on MAC/Safari … but as for sharing photos then I wish Flickr did that  😀

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Software could tell the authentisity of an image

“Using a new program to analyze images and videos for changes may reveal hidden terrorist messages.”

Ok, this is interesting in that someone has used clever ideas and neat technology to analyise the source and authentisity of an image, which could help decide debates about is it real, is it not real.  But sorry, it would be much more interesting if it did not mention Al Qaeda and concentrated on the fact that the process was in fact possible.  We are hit by a mountain of images on a daily basis which could be doctored to hide their true source or indeed include hidden messages and these are from all “sides” and across all media.  Lets try it against some government images.

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Whats under the hood at youtube.com

We have all heard, seen and probably uploaded to Youtube.com but have you ever wondered what is under the hood, just what makes this site work and how it was able to scale so quickly to handle delivery of over 100 million videos a day … well, if you have then this will make for interesting reading.  If you haven’t, well enjoy their services anyway.

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