Edwin Jones

Edwin Jones

Posted on 01/18/2012

Photo taken on January 15, 2012


star trails
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Crater Rim Star Trails Lanzarote

Crater Rim Star Trails Lanzarote
The Shot

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

This was my second go at Star Trails. The most important requirement is a clear night in an area as free from light pollution as possible. The moon was not due to rise until after midnight.

This was taken from the floor of the crater Montana Cuervo near Masdache, Lanzarote. It is not as well visited as many places on the Island despite its exceptional beauty. It requires an easy 20 minute flat walk on a footpath from the road to the base of the Crater. Round the right hand side there is a great gash in the Crater wall permitting easy access to the crater floor. There are large numbers of rocks scattered across the Crater floor.

The star trails turned out better than I expected. Although it was clear at sunset, by the time I started shooting a lot of light cloudy patches had moved in obscuring some of the stars at times. This caused gaps in the Star trails. It was essential to keep the Tripod steady with what felt like a gale blowing into the crater through the gap. I solved this by pushing the Tripod legs well into the loose regolith of the crater floor.
There are 2 methods, 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. 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 f4.5

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. The foreground comprises an HDR image taken while there was still light. With the Camera and Tripod locked in position the star trail images were taken later when the stars were out. It is necessary to wait for Astronomical Night which on that night was an hour and 20 minutes after Sunset. I used wunderground.com for the location which has an Almanac section which includes that. This is the time when all light from the sun has left the sky and the maximum number of stars is available.

The light on the horizon is the light from the small town of Tinajo to the north of the crater. Most light pollution was behind me from the main resorts 8 miles away and mainly hidden by the crater rim.

I took some test exposures to check the stars showed up. Unlike my first Star Trails picture taken in the UK I had no problem with condensation fogging the lens. Lanzarote is a very dry almost desert like climate
The image was taken over 40 minutes with 80 images of 30 seconds exposures each stacked with the startrails software. 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, 30 seconds, 10mm.
- Sigma 10-20 lens.
- Tripod.
- Wireless Shutter Release

- Arrive early, bring a compass or Smartphone, to help find the north star.
- Setup gear while it’s still light, get your composition and wait.
- Shoot test shots, check light, make sure you can see the first stars.
- Wait for that perfect moment, then start the exposure.
- Bring a torch, so you can find you w