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Star Trails over Seattle
Lens: DA15 Camera: K-7 Photo Location: Seattle, WA 
Posted By: v5planet, 04-23-2012, 08:27 AM

So I wanted to push the envelope a little bit on what can be done with star trail images. Star trails are usually taken way out in the wilderness far from light pollution; I'm stuck in a city without a car, so I've been forced to do all mine from within its limits, pointing outward away from the dome of Seattle's light. But last night I tried something I've been meaning to attempt for a while, if not just as a technical experiment. I made star trails over the city skyline itself:


This is obviously not a single exposure. Normally in the city I stack 30" exposures. The star trails in this image were made that way and represent approximately an hour. The trick was combining that stack with a separate image created before it was fully dark, to give the skyline and horizon a balanced look. That earlier image (which itself is a blend of 3 bracketed exposures) is also responsible for the blue color of the sky (as opposed to the hideous orange hue it takes on once the light pollution becomes the dominant light source).

There are some technical problems with the image, but not the ones I expected. I was under a street light and didn't notice until it was dark that it was going to cast some glare -- there is a mottled pinkish texture from that in the upper right. The bridge I was on was shaky and I perhaps didn't focus as keenly as I could have, so the image is not terribly crisp upon close scrutiny. Etc. But my main concern -- about whether it was even technically feasible to combine the different exposures necessary for this image compellingly -- turned out to be a non-issue. I got a few dubious questions about what I was doing from some fellow (non-believer) photographers at the site. ;-)

(On a side note, the International Space Station can be seen zipping through this image. It's the streak of light moving against the grain near the center in the top third of the frame).
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04-23-2012, 08:34 AM   #2
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Wow this is awesome. Bravo!
04-23-2012, 08:38 AM   #3
MSL
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Wowie. Neat. Zowie.
Not something I would ever do myself. Then again, HDR of even 2 images doesn't interest me at the moment

If there is anything that I find odd about the image and that you might want to PP a little, it is the bright green dots. I find them very distracting. I'm assuming they are the highway signs, but they've turned a very glowy green color.
04-23-2012, 10:03 AM   #4
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Great job!!!

I’ve been waiting for a good clear night (when I’m not doing something else) to do star trails over the Gulf of Mexico. You have given me a whole lot more to think about.

Thanks, I will post some if I get anything good.

By the way did you know the Space Station was coming over at that location and time?

04-23-2012, 01:20 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
Wowie. Neat. Zowie.
Not something I would ever do myself. Then again, HDR of even 2 images doesn't interest me at the moment

If there is anything that I find odd about the image and that you might want to PP a little, it is the bright green dots. I find them very distracting. I'm assuming they are the highway signs, but they've turned a very glowy green color.
Yes, those are signs over the freeway (I-5). They have that highly reflective green paint so not surprising they show up so well...

v5planet, a very cool result! Nice to have clear skies for a change, isn't it? You were up on the hill by the old Public Health hospital building?

Jim (slightly south of there)
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