Sunday, November 19, 2006

Making tracks

Checking the weather report this afternoon I saw it was going to be clear tonight with no moon. I've had the itch to get back out and try to capture some star track shots and this evening afforded an almost perfect opportunity.

I caught a couple of twilight shots near a pond shortly after the sun set, then I drove around in the countryside west of Elgin, Illinois to find a suitable spot to camp out to make some long exposures after the sky had darkened considerably. I found a spot near a couple of gnarly old oak trees and a road sign near Highland Avenue.

I basically spent the next hour kneeling in a ditch to make four exposures. This was a ten-minute exposure, more or less. I forgot to bring a timepiece and counted the seconds in my head. I lost my place a few times counting to 600. I let the lights from a couple of passing cars provide the lower light trails. The Creator of the universe supplied the upper light trails. A small flashlight illuminated the sign.

If you enlarge the picture you'll notice the star trails are not continuous, but broken. this occurred because I intermittently covered the lens with my hat while a number of cars passed by on the road. A few automobile light trails are OK. A couple dozen are not.

I was again amazed that the camera captured many more stars than I could see. I really just set up the camera and went on faith that they would be there when the film was processed.

600 second exposure, f5.6, 100 ISO film. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.


Nick said...

I like the hat trick. I was wondering if this is a very quiet area with few cars.

Nice idea well doen. Nick

Marion said...

What can I say...this one is wonderful! Again...those star tracks are truly amazing.

V. Schroeder said...

Wow, way to experiment! And this photo is really illustrating the name of your blog "Points of Light". V.

James said...

nick, I had read about using a hat to cover the lens to block out unwanted stuff on long exposures. I was just happy I remembered to wear one that evening. The stretch is usually pretty quiet, but for some reason a lot of cars were travelling the road that night.

Marion, thanks! I'm learning and refining how I go about capturing those. Lots more to come!

v. I've thought of the "Points of Light" connection myself! Thanks!