Star Trails and Moonlight

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


This was shot in early April, with some moonlight, basically as a test run for a shot with the tree silhouetted, but every clear night was too windy and there was too much movement of the branches, as there is here. Then the leaves came out. Maybe next winter…

Specific Feedback

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Screen Shot 2023-05-15 at 10.34.38 AM

About 4 hours of 6 min exposures, stacked in Lighten mode. Some dodging and burning and removed a power pole in the LL.

Too bad about the conditions not aligning. Such is the life of the night photographer! I like the composition and idea. Hopefully next winter will bring a night of clear skies and no wind.

Hi Diane,
this is a beautiful Startrail composition. I love how you aligned Polaris behind your main tree.
And four hours is quite an effort for a test shot. But the result is quite impressive.

I can imagine that this will look really good when the silhouettes of the leafless trees will stand out against the clear sky. So, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that it all comes together next winter.

Your alignment of Polaris through the “main” tree looks great and makes excellent use of star trails, Diane.

Thanks, @DeanRoyer, @Jens_Ober and @Mark_Seaver! Hmmm – one relatively moonless, clear night without wind in 6 months… Maybe. But I’m pretty sure something will find a way to interfere.

Jens, I just set up the camera in late afternoon (conveniently up the hill behind our house) and set the intervalometer to start when I guessed it would be dark enough, and let it run till the battery died and retrieved it the next morning. I aimed the camera with the compass and level on my iPhone – that has proved quite accurate for getting the north celestial pole in the center of the frame, which is necessary for round trails.

I know exactly what you mean. It’s the same story here. There are so many factors that have to fit together. Moonless night, clear sky, no wind. For me, it usually has to be on the weekend as well, and I should not have any other appointments. These criteria were not met even once for me in Germany last year.

You’ve come up with the perfect plan.