How To Photograph the Stars

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May 1, 2014 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Inspiration, Seneca Spotlight by  •  0 Comments

The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio. Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. Follow them each week!

Class: Independent Project
Assignment: Final Portfolio
Student: David Keller
Professor: Ron Erwin
Assignment guidelines: Produce a portfolio of images that demonstrate the skills learned throughout the program.

© David Keller

© David Keller

Background: Our goal for the final semester is to create our portfolio. We had to pick a mentor to help guide us through this process. I had the privilege to work with Ron Erwin.

© David Keller

© David Keller

Process: I’ll focus on 2 specific pictures from my portfolio, both taken at Algonquin, Ontario, at two different times. These pictures consist of multiple images to make up a composite. The first image is a composite of 75 pictures; the second image is 332 pictures. You need a wide-angle lens and an introvalometer to allow you to set a timed interval for images. Switch your lens to manual focus and turn the focusing ring to the infinity symbol. Set up your exposure (in this case: 60 s, f/4, ISO 400). Decide where you want the North Star for your composition, because all the other stars will rotate around the North Star. For the first image it was -40°C. I was bundled up in layer after layer to keep warm. Unfortunately, clouds came in and took the nice clear sky away. This is why my first star trail image is of only 75 images. The second time I did this in Algonquin, it was much warmer; however, it was still -30°C at night. I was with another photographer, Wesley Liikane, who is just as much of a nature freak as I am! This picture, composited of 332 images, took about 2 ½ hours to complete. At one point, my battery died because it was so cold, and somehow I managed to switch out the batteries and keep it going without moving the camera. To keep my camera and lens warm, I took a sock, cut it in half and then took two hand warmers and placed them on my lens and tucked the sock over it. I spent the night close to my car on an empty road in the middle of nowhere. While looking up at the stars the entire night, all I could hear was sap cracking and snapping in the trees around us. It really was so breathtaking I can’t even explain how amazing it is. It’s something you just have to see for yourself.

Conclusion: Learning how to photograph the stars was such an amazing experience. There’s something about it that makes you feel a little bit closer to realizing there’s a whole sky of life out there; a whole new world is up there staring back at you.

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