Photo of the week #4: This photo is my first attempt at shooting startrails. It was taken at Topsail Beach tonight and is an approximately 43-minute exposure. It was made by combining 80 30-second exposures to get the startrails with one 3-minute exposure to expose the foreground. The photo was fairly heavily processed to help compensate for the fact that 4 minutes of the exposure contained extra light from a car's headlights (the beach's parking lot faces the ocean). Also, the focus is unfortunately very soft in the foreground due to the fact that the camera shifted close to the end of the series of 80 short exposures, before I took the final 3-minute exposure.
Since this was my first attempt at startrails, I think it turned out ok. But, I've definitely learned some valuable lessons for my next attempt (not the least of which is to either dress warmer or to shoot startrails in the summer only!). I also had to rely very heavily on help from Geoff for this shot, including everything from borrowing his ultra-wide lens, to help with exposure times and tons of help with the post-processing (very much appriciated!). He was also a great sport about standing around outside in the cold for an hour, just so that I could take a photo :)
Also, in case anyone is interested, I used a program called Startrails (http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html) to merge the 80 30-second exposures. I would definitely recommend this program - very easy to use, fast and free!