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Star trails

One of my photography magazines this month featured an article on shooting star trails by taking lots of long-ish exposures and stacking them together. As luck would have it the sky was completely clear this evening so I thought I'd give it a try. Even here in our village there is a reasonable amount of light pollution from Chichester so I took a short drive to West Dean church (see http://www.photoblog.com/girafferacing/2008/06/13/ [null] for a previous shot of the church) which is a bit further out and pretty much completely without street lighting. I set my camera up on my tripod and experimented until I found a framing I liked then set it taking repeated 40 second exposures. I'd carefully parked my car right outside the church gates where I could see my camera and tripod (and anyone else would have had to walk past me to get into the churchyard) so at this point I retreated to the car to listen to the radio in warmth and comfort. Half hour later I had 23 shots with the stars gradually shifting across the sky in each one. After driving home I combined these in the programme suggested in the magazine (available free from www.startrails.de [null]) and here's the result after a little bit of tweaking in Photoshop Elements. It's not perfect - I would have liked smoother trails rather than the slightly dotty ones I have here - but I'm fairly pleased with it as a first attempt. After the crazy weather we've had so far this week it seemed daft not to give it a try this evening - it could be weeks before the sky is this clear of clouds again!

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