Edwin Jones

Edwin Jones

Posted on 03/23/2012

Photo taken on March 21, 2012


Long exposure
the plough
north star
wide angle
star trails
sigma wide angle

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Halnaker Mill 60 Minutes

Halnaker Mill 60 Minutes
The Shot

Note there is no Exif info for this shot as the Startrails stacking software removes it.

Now I am back in the UK it is very noticeable how much higher in the sky the North Star is compared with the shots taken in the much lower latitudes of Lanzarote.

This was taken at an old windmill on the South Downs north of Chichester. It looks more derelict than usual because 3 of the sails have been taken down for renovation. There was light from Chichester 2 miles behind me and Bognor Regis 8 miles to the South. These lit up the clouds to the north which I think adds to the picture. There was also a little sky glow from London 60 miles due north from here. I lit the Mill by playing my bicycle front light over the mill and sail for about 10 seconds in 4 of the exposures while moving around to get the light from different angles.

This is not quite an hour but 56 minutes of 30 second exposures so 112 exposures.

There are 2 methods for Star Trails, either one long exposure of 20 minutes plus or a lot of shorter exposures later blended together. The problem with the first is if something goes wrong such as a walker with a flashlight or condensation you can lose the whole thing so I went for the second. It would normally be very time consuming to blend all the pictures together but there is now free software available to do it for you at www.startrails.de/html/software.html

With the method of stacking together shorter exposures noise is not such an issue so I turned off the Cameras noise reduction settings. If these are turned on it doubles the exposure length as a second image is taken automatically of the same length for the noise reduction process leading to gaps in the Star Trails unless the one exposure method is used. Noise was corrected later with software. Also a higher ISO is required to get the stars to register in 30 seconds so I used ISO 800 and f4. The white balance was set at daylight.

The circular pattern is formed by pointing the camera towards Polaris the Pole Star near the Plough. As the Earth turns stars more above the pole do not appear to move as much as those more above lower latitudes. I had with me an HTC Android Smart Phone with the Google Sky App. This enabled me to locate the pole star while there was still light.

I set the camera to continuous mode and used a wireless shutter release to lock the shutter so the exposures were taken continuously without needing to touch the Camera
- Sony A700.
- ISO 800, f4.5, 30 seconds, 13mm.
- Sigma 10-20 lens.
- Tripod.
- Wireless Shutter Release


For the Star Trails the stacking software works on jpegs which are then saved as a Tiff. I opened this in Photoshop

I first used Topaz Adjust Vibrance presets, Detail strong 2 with some adjustments to further bring out the Star Trails and Mill. Noise reduction also applied in Topaz. This adjustment was done with a duplicate layer and a layer mask used to reduce the effect on the clouds.

After flattening layers I did general adjustments in curves to increase lightness and contrast and bring up more star trails.

Vibrance increased by 47 points.

Hue Saturation adjustment layer used to bring down yellows saturation in the clouds.

Further Noise reduction was done with Noiseware Pro


For Licensing and more pictures see Edwin Jones Photography