Star Trails Over the Fisherman’s Memorial
Photos of star trails are normally taken at places away from city in complete darkness. That usually means that a city guy like me has to drive far away from home. Besides the hassle of driving, I often find it difficult to find human element on the ground to compliment the star trail when I photograph star trails away from urban areas.
Last night (May 2, 2013) clouds were blown away by strong wind and a clear sky was revealed. I decided to try a star trail shoot in my neighborhood. There is a fisherman’s memorial at Garry Point Park near my home, which takes the form of a freestanding giant fishing net needle. It would be a nice ground element if I could frame the fishing net needle with its tip pointing at the Polar Star (Polaris). However, it was extremely difficult to find the star, because it’s weak light was overwhelm by the strong light contamination from the nearby fishing village. I took my shots anyway, with my cheap Rokinon 14mm ultrawide lens. Twelve shots, at f6.7 300 seconds ISO 160 each, were taken and they look like this in contact sheet form:
Back home, the shots (in raw format) were converted into tiff files in Lightroom and then combined into a single image in Startrails, an excellent free software developed by a German programmer Achim Schaller (it can be downloaded here). Then, in Photoshop, the image was cropped, and its white balance, tone, contrast etc. were adjusted. Edge masking and layer blending were used to lighten up the trails. Tree tips on the lower right corner and light trails from low flying airplanes on the lower left corner were cloned away. Voila, a relatively clear and clean startrail image!
If I take another shoot, I will try to get the tip of the needle pointing exactly at Polaris.
P.S. Words inscribed on the momorial:
May 4, 1996
This memorial honours all the fishermen of our community who have
lost their lives in the pursuit of their profession.
Their courage, dedication and contribution to the development of our
community will never be forgotten.”