Double Arch Star Trails

This was my first star trail image. Selecting the composition was challenging in the dark and the actual capture was long and boring. The initial image was a composite of 266 exposures taken in a bit over 2 hours. I used StarStaX to create the image and after it was complete I noticed numerous aircraft light tracks going in every direction. Add a couple of satellite tracks and the image became more than busy. I tracked down the exposures that contained the “offending” aircraft and satellite tracks and deleted them with a final image consisting of 226 exposures. The faint reddish glow came from another photographer further under the arch setting up his/her capture. Glad it happened - it added some needed definition to the arch.

The 2 hour and 8 minute capture became pretty boring and I actually took a nap on the rocks - not comfortable but when you’re tired and bored you can do it.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

The image was taken while on a workshop. Doing it over, I would have started out with a much shorter overall capture time with fewer images and then increased the number of exposures so I could actually get more than one image and get several different “looks”. Now I wonder what it would have looked like with 50, 75, 100, 150 and 200 exposures. I could have probably sneaked in a couple of shorter naps.

Technical Details

Nikon D-810
Nikkor 14-24 f2.8
ISO 1600
24 mm
30 sec

Processed using StarStaX (free version) and LightRoom (increased Vibrance +8), Also used Topaz DeNoise AI (Standard setting).

@Doug_Beezley , KUDOS for a first effort, both the overall composition and the hard work you went through to put it all together. It is lovely. I’ve never tried anything like this so I’ll leave the technical comments to others.

Thank you, John. It really is fun when it actually comes together. Give it a try.

I missed this one when it was posted – got too busy for a couple of months with a deep dive into astrophotography and neglected too much here! I love the dramatic setting and composition, and the lighting on the arch! It’s a slightly unusual and very effective perspective to be zoomed in a little (at 24mm) and have the center of rotation hidden behind the rocks. Nice star colors!

One possibility for a slightly different look is to go to a lower ISO to eliminate the dimmer stars. Then you can go to a longer exposure time and have fewer subs to deal with.