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The Star Diary Part I

You don’t need to look very far back in my blog to see that I love to take shots at night. This is of course due primarily to working in the day and so having time in the evenings to play with cameras.

To this point my night time photography has been limited to cities where light pollution makes the long exposures of more than 60 seconds unusual.

As we are in Samui at the moment and on the coast, I am going to start some star trail photography (hopefully tonight – cloud permitting) and so am going to be doing a little bit of trial and error.

The rule of thumb I have been told from a number of people is;

No moon – 90 minute exposure, Half Moon – 60 minutes and Bright Moon light – 30 minutes. These are with the moon out of the frame.

It was Black Moon here on the 5th July and so 7 days later we are half way towards the full moon – and so it will probably be somewhere around 45 minutes at f2.8 or maybe pushed to 60 minutes at f3.5 to get longer trails.

I will be using Kodak Ektar 100 in the Nikon F2A with a 24/2.8 Nikkor set at somewhere between 2.8 and 3.5.

The best thing about really long exposures for film buffs is that this is something that your digital counterparts cannot manage.

The issues on a digital include the obvious limitations of battery life and the less obvious heat generated by the sensor over a long period of time. Digital enthusiasts avoid these issues by taking one hundred or so images of 30 second exposures and making a composite – which does work really well and avoids as much colour cast from the moon.

I will update how the process is going over the next few nights and then hopefully have something to show when we get back to HK.

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Posted by simon on July 12, 2011

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