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8. Moonlight and Star Trails  > Stacking Images for Longer Star Trails

STACKING IMAGES FOR LONGER STAR TRAILS

Stacking, or combining a series of relatively short exposures, is a great way to create longer star trails with digital cameras. Shooting images for stacking is straightforward, but there are many different ways to combine the images after you have captured them. The concept of stacking is simple; by shooting a sequence of short exposures and blending them in postprocessing, it is possible to minimize noise and achieve exposure times that are not possible with a single frame.

Scott Martin, “Wisp,” Mono Lake, California, 2009

This striking image taken at Mono Lake in California takes advantage of the Canon 5D Mark II’s ability to capture noise-free images at high ISO levels. The fast-moving cloud was captured in the ideal position relative to the tufa tower, and the stars are rendered as points of light rather than trails. Scott took several exposures as the cloud moved through the scene, but it took quick thinking and second-nature familiarity with his camera to catch this fleeting moment. This kind of spontaneity is unusual in night situations, but when the moment arises, it is great to be prepared for it. Canon 5D Mark II, 24 mm lens, 15 seconds, f5.6, ISO 1600.


  

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