On my way out to Yosemite for the 2nd time in little over a month, I was checking the weather forecast on my iPad via the in flight wifi. At first I was disappointed to see clear skies in the forecast as Yosemite is always best photographed with some clouds to help show depth and dimension. Then I realized the clear skies and no moon would make for a great opportunity to capture a star trails picture so I quick jumped onto BorrowLenses.com and reserved the Canon 14mm 2.8L lens. Thankfully, BorrowLenses.com main location is a short drive from SFO so I was able to swing by on my way out to the valley and pick up the lens.
I arrived in the magnificent Yosemite valley the afternoon before earth day and first day of National Parks week. It was stunning to see how busy the valley was compared to a month ago. Due to very little snow this winter, Glacier Point opened up the day before my visit so I decided to head up before sunset and take advantage of the clear sky for some star trails and astro photography. After sunset, I setup to photograph a star trails image over Yosemite Valley. I’m uber excited with the results. The swirling star trails help capture the grand and mystic feeling when experiencing the purity of the cool air stinging your lungs while standing above the mighty Yosemite Valley on a clear spring night.
It turns out, (Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty) the time-lapse ninjas behind the incredibly awesome Yosemite HD video were also out to start their planned follow up video. Check out their behind the scenes post from last weekend – (The Start of Yosemite HD II). I was extremely impressed with their dedication as they photographed all night and were still shooting when I returned for earth day sunrise the following morning!!
Star Trails Field Notes
For those interested, here are my star trails notes that have worked great for me:
- Set white balance to daylight
- Set focus to infinity
- Use lowest f-stop possible
- Set Image preview off
- Set long exposure noise reduction off
- Take ISO 1600 – 6400 to frame / test
- Use ISO 400 – 800 depending on ambient light
- Use jpeg instead of RAW
- Use remote shutter release and button lock on remote
- Set Continuous mode
- Manual mode, 30 sec exposure
- Capture time (need 1 hour, 120 shots)
- To process, I use this Photoshop script