Star Trails: More Than Just Pretty Lights

I have to share a really cool post I stumbled across late last night. You know those articles that inspire you to actually get out of your chair and go shoot pictures? Yeah. One of those.

Dan Newton, a 25-year-old Nevada-based shooter, calls himself a hobbyist. Although from the looks of his images (and what magazines have featured him on their cover) you wouldn't believe it. This kid is putting out some truly amazing star trail images and you have to check him out. In this article he lays out his process for shooting them. In the digital world, shooting long exposures is a little different than in the days of film. Locking open your shutter for hours usually means enough noise to kill a shot, but instead by capturing a series of short images and later blending them in post-processing (with help from an easy program called StarTrails), you can end up with a beautiful image.

Okay, so I went out earlier and tried his technique. I'm no seasoned expert on star trails so my first attempt looks pretty bland:

Today I want to find a better spot. Something with an interesting foreground. Any Charleston readers want to hook me up? :)

Seriously, though. Advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. Star trails are one of my most favorite displays of frozen motion and I think with practice I could make some decent shots.

Dark Chocolate

Nugget is quickly becoming a great little model to work with. He's so eager to explore the world, and so intrigued with my camera lens that it's easy to capture his wonderment.

I shot this picture earlier this month with available window light, and after tweaking it for a while I finally have a print I'm happy with. The original image left much to be desired, but then again, taking the picture is just the beginning, right Ansel? The making of art is done in the [digital] darkroom.

My creative brain is beginning to wake up again; being on a busy submarine schedule never really left much time for creating images I was happy with. Near the end of my tour there I found myself disappointed more often than not when I would come home from a day of shooting. Now that more free time is available, I'm starting to have more ideas.

What do you do when you hit a mental block? When you can't come up with an interesting idea to save your life? Share your right brain-boosting remedies!

New Uploads


I've started a new collection of images, "South Carolina Lowcountry," that is available in my gallery. All these were shot with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, the one I raved about in my previous post. What a great piece of glass! I'm thoroughly impressed.

At Long Last...


After years of listening to everyone else rave about one of the SLR industry's all-time best lenses, I've finally had enough. I've drooled my last drop in envy. Yesterday I dropped the biggest single chunk of change yet for photographic gear, and I'm not looking back. My Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM lens came this morning (oh yeah, you think I wouldn't overnight this one? I was like a kid on Christmas morning.)

I'm not one to buy something big on impulse. The more something costs, the more research I have to do on it to make sure I get as much of a rounded opinion as possible. I went to B&H and literally read through all 375 reviews of this lens, and I could count on one hand the number of people who didn't say (to some extent), "buy this lens and you won't regret it."

The singularly overwhelming con for this lens? Its weight. Lots of people gave great reviews yet had to throw one parting shot about how the weight is tough to deal with but worth it. At 3.5 pounds, it's a hefty piece of gear to tote around. Oh well. Guess I'll get started on that workout. :)

I'm beside myself, honestly. This is my first "L" series lens and definitely not my last. At least now I have no shame in admitting what this lens is replacing: my beat-up, worn out old Canon 75-300 f4-5.6 that's as sharp as a bowling ball, with AF as fast as a cold jar of molasses, and sounds like someone put a handful of screws in the dryer. Hopefully this lens lasts me a very, very long time. As soon as I get a chance I'll put up new pics!