Night Time Photography

I’m tired today. With good reason. I was awake for 22 hours yesterday, I got to bed gone 5am this morning and I’ve had 2.5 hours sleep. But it wasn’t all in vain. I decided my target for this month was to photography Pen y Fan at night to show the rotation of the earth in the form of star trails. So, I drove out to the Neuadd Reservoirs and got there at 9:30pm. I walked half a mile up onto the hill, found a suitable spot and settled down. I balanced my 5D Mark II on a bean bag and rock whilst the 5D got the tripod. I waited until 11:30pm when it was dark enough and set about taking a series of 30 minute exposures. The 5D battery lasted for under 1.5 hours of exposure whereas the 5D Mark II battery lasted for over 4 hours! I left the hill at 4am after taking lots of photos, drinking lots of coffe and getting cold knees. I even dozed off to sleep for a few minutes, but fortunately woke up before the 30 minutes of an exposure was over. I stacked the images in Photoshop this morning. This is the result:

Pen y Fan Star Trails (Canon 5D Mark II) 3 hour exposure

Pen y Fan Star Trails (Canon 5D Mark II) 3 hour exposure

Pen y Fan Star Trails (Canon 5D) 1.5 hour exposure

Pen y Fan Star Trails (Canon 5D) 1.5 hour exposure


  1. Dan Santillo says

    Just imagine the long star trails reduced by 1/5 (for 5DII) and 1/3 (for 5D) and you get the individual exposures. The 5D has lots of speckles which are easily removed in Photoshop. The 5DII has virtually none and removing them in Photoshop degrades the fine detail.

    I’ve yet to try the Dark Frame Subtraction which means taking a photo for the same length of time with the lens cap on which creates a ‘control’ image with the camera’s inherent noise and then subtracting that from the actual photo in Photoshop. I’ll maybe give that a go in the week.

  2. 'Er says

    Brilliant – amazing and well worth your effort, you must be well pleased :-) Will you trail some Cornish stars one day???

  3. Alan says

    Hi, D! These are certainly out of the ordinary … and well worth the effort. Maybe some over the Tamar Bridge would work as well … and I think would most certainly sell well?

  4. Dan Santillo says

    It might work with the Tamar Bridge, but light pollution would be a big issue. I think it would have to be tens of images exposed for maybe a minute each.

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