Star Trails Over Garibaldi Lake

I hiked up to Garibaldi Lake (elevation 1450m) last Sunday with two friends, with a specific idea of taking photos of star trails over the lake. The idea was to take 4-6 images, each with 10 minutes of exposure, and then to stack the images together in Photoshop to create an image of star trails equivalent to 40-60 minutes of exposure. The advantage of this method is relatively low noise in the final image. The downside is that the individual component image may be under-exposed if the foreground is too dark or the sky is hazy. I had hoped that the half moon in the first two hours of the night would help light up the foreground and that the stars would be as clear as they had been in my memory of my previous overnight stays by the lake.

Things turned out not as good as I hoped for. The moon did its job but the sky was somewhat hazy and the stars were not very bright. There were a lot of people walking around with headlight on and there was no place for me to sit down during the long exposures. I made only three exposures and called it a day. As the first two appeared under-exposed, I had to boost up the ISO and lengthened the exposure to 18 minutes for the last one, which turned out to be too noisy to be useful. So in the end I had only two 10-minute exposure images to stack up. The result is not very satisfactory but somewhat acceptable.


4 thoughts on “Star Trails Over Garibaldi Lake

    • Thanks for your comment. Well, cheating normally means you make up something that is not there. In this case, the stacked images do not make up anything that is not already there. They just reflect continuation of time which is shown by the star trails. They are like two adjacent frames from a movie. Exposing two star trail images for 10 minutes each is no difference from exposing one for 20 minutes.

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