I’ve been away for the Easter weekend with a group of photographers from RedBubble, the main site I put my photography on. We went to the little historic gold mining town of Hill End, Central NSW. It is a great place to photograph. Many old buildings, mining reminents, autumn trees and spectacular lookouts are there, waiting to be shot. Over the weekend, one of the fellows I met offered to take us out to show how to take star trails. Since this is something I have wanted to do, like, forever, I jumped at the chance to go out into the darkness with three pretty much complete strangers! It was pitch black when we arrived at our vantage point, and with one torch between us, it was a little difficult to negotiate our way (it didn’t help that Jeff ran away with the torch and left us standing in the dark). But we found the perfect spot, under the amazing Milky Way. I can’t remember the last time I had seen so many stars. Jeff showed us how to set up the camera, made sure we were pointing due south and we opened our shutters and waited.

Eight minutes into our long exposure, my cameras shutter closed, all on its own, and it didn’t record an image. Damn batteries, or so I assumed. I couldn’t attempt another shot as the moon had risen and there was too much light coming from it, so we all headed back to the Lodge. I was disappointed that my star trail hadn’t worked, but excited to get home and try it again. I did some research and discovered my cameras maximum exposure time is eight minutes, but I also found out about ‘stacking’ photographs to reduce noise in long exposures. This was perfect, as I was sooo annoyed that eight minutes was all I got- now I had unlimited time.

So I packed up my gear, put on a few extra layers- it was around 7 degrees outside, and headed off to find the ideal spot to try star trails again. After driving for a while, up a number of skinny dirt roads, I found a spot away from houses and cars and set up. I tried a few different lengths of exposure, took lots of shots and then headed back home- with the heater on full ball to thaw out. Uploaded the shots onto my computer. Used the stacking software I had downloaded earlier in the day and waited to see the results.

A few did not work out very well, not long enough exposures, a couple had good star trails but my light painting techniques need some work or there wasn’t any foreground at all. But i did have one image I did like. My torch was going flat so the tree in the forground isn’t very bright and half way through one exposure the plane from Sydney came in to land, light blazing right under the tree! But other than that, I am pleased with the result and here it is- In the Still of the Night

Now to buy some long johns and a beanie and head out into the darkness to perfect my star trails. I can’t wait.