The cream of my latest adventures!

Gloomy and Starry Nights

The latest news is that my wife and I have moved from the UK to Norway! It´s been going great and we´re both getting down and dirty with our jobs.

Moving to Norway also gives great new opportunities for photography. Stunning landscapes, plus my dad´s cabin which is a very nice and dark location for starry night shots.

We went to the cabin this Easter – 2011 – and I brought the Canon 5D MkII, my tripod and three lenses on the trip:

  • 24-105mm
  • 70-200mm
  • 50mm

I brought the 50mm to make the camera light and easy to carry when I was shooting my wife learning how to ski. She really improved during our stay this Easter! For the starry photos I used the 24-105mm Canon lens which gives excellent colours and quality, plus the widest angle of the 3 lenses – perfect for capturing the stars!

It took me this trip to realise that I needed to replace the Canon RC-1 remote control with a new one after losing the old one (or leaving it on location and not bothering to go pick it up). So I have now bought the Canon RC-6 which basically has the same functions – it just looks slightly different.

For the shoot I mainly used a 30 second shutter speed, which is the max you can go to (as I know) without using bulb mode. I could not use bulb mode as it would cause camera shake when pressing the button (hence why I´m replacing the remote). I put it on a 2 second timer with mirror lockup, both reducing vibration in the tripod which was fixed in the snow. Mirror lockup puts the mirror in the right position before the shutter actually opens, removing even more vibration, making the photo clearer.

Stars with cabin in foreground

Dark and moody photo of the stars with the cabin in front. The cabin is lit up by a small flash light I brought outside - handy! Focal Length: 24mm, Aperture: F4, Shutter: 30s, ISO: 2000

As you can see in the above photo I had to go with a high ISO of 2000 to get a bright enough photo within the 30s shutter speed. If you want it brighter without increasing the ISO you either need a wider aperture or longer shutter speed. Fortunately the Canon 5D MkII is reasonably kind on high ISOs.

This next photo is part of a series of photos I used for a star trail shoot (see below). On this shot I needed to boost the ISO even further, to 4000, to get sufficient brightness and take advantage of the little remaining light left from the sun, which already had set a while ago. Other than this settings were consistent with the previous photo.

Starry Night in Rindalen

The orange purple colour combination affected by a sun which has set a while ago. Focal Length: 24mm, Aperture: F4, Shutter: 30s, ISO: 4000

Finally, the jewel of the night. Star trails are normally created by very long shutter speeds of 5 minutes and more. Don´t have a remote? Stitch together several 30 second shots, which I have done here using a Lightroom plugin called Enfuse. Enfuse is especially designed for merging HDR photos and star trails, and the results look good. Check it out!

The below photo is stitched together using 26 virtually equal photos, but showing the trail of the stars, which actually do move quite quickly although it doesn´t seem like it when you look at the stars. With the 2 second timer, mirror lockup and tripod mounted in the snow, I managed to capture enough photos to make this star trail photo.

Star trail photo

Star trail stitched together using 26 photos with the same settings as the previous photo I used the Enfuse plugin for Lightroom. Focal Length: 24mm, Aperture: F4, Shutter: 30s, ISO: 4000

I hope you liked the shots. I will return with more star trails using my new remote. So watch this space!


7 responses

  1. Lars-Erik


    Kule bilder Torstein! Hva slags blitz var det du brukte til å lyse opp hytta? Har du fått deg en ny fancy trådløs blitz?
    Jeg gleder meg til å se flere bilder! 🙂

    May 4, 2011 at 5:53 am

    • Torstein

      Takk Larsa! 🙂 Brukte ei hodelykt.

      May 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

    • Torstein

      Just to expand on the use of light. I used an LED headlamp which had a blue tint (handy for this effect). During the 30 second exposure I swiped the headlamp across the cabin and snow, only leaving it on for about 2 seconds. If I´d left it on for longer the cabin could have become over exposed in comparison to the stars.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

  2. Dawid

    Nice shots Mr T!
    Is Lightroom worth the time? I’ve tried it once but didn’t liked it for some reason. Maybe I’ll give it a second chance.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:53 am

    • Torstein

      Very good if you’re processing large amounts of photos or want to do RAW processing 🙂

      May 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

  3. Lars-Erik

    If you were to be using bulb mode instead, and have exposure times > 30s, do you really think the shutter-shaking of the camera would be noticeable on the result?

    May 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    • Torstein

      Depends how long exposure time you use. Never experimented with it but always aim for perfectly still exposures. 🙂

      May 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm

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