How to Photograph and Process Star Trails

In my 35-minute HD tutorial I take you from “field to final,” to illustrate how to shoot, then process star trails, both as still images and as time-lapse movies of the turning night sky.

From a shoot in the field at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta in June 2015 I explain:
• what equipment, exposures and camera settings to use when shooting star trails
• and provide tips on minimizing noise and selecting intervals and exposures for time-lapses.

Back at the computer, using images I took on the night of the field shoot, I step you through processing a still image from “raw to rave,” demonstrating methods for stacking many short exposures to create a long-exposure star trail composite.

The workflow goes from Adobe Bridge into Adobe Camera Raw then into Photoshop. But the early steps I illustrate for developing raw images are entirely applicable to Adobe Lightroom.

However, Lightroom cannot stack or create composites. I illustrate step by step how to stack images in:
• Photoshop, and …
• the stand-alone free app StarStaX app (, and …
• the Advanced Stacker Plus action plug-ins for Photoshop (

I then demonstrate how to use that same folder of many raw images to create a time-lapse movie of the turning stars, again using the StarStaX app, and the Advanced Stacker Actions for Photoshop. I show how to use both programs to export an “intermediate” set of images that create the effect of the stars drawing trails across the sky.

Other tutorial videos on my channel describe …
How to Photograph Aurora
How to Photograph Moonlit Nightscapes


For more detailed tutorials and advice on shooting all forms of nightscape images and time-lapse movies of the night sky, see my 400-page multimedia and interactive eBook, available exclusively through the Apple iBookstore at:

(Sorry, no Kindle or Android versions are available due to the extensive interactive and video content of the ebook.)

Or, to learn more about the eBook’s content, visit my website at:

… where you will also find several pages of tips and techniques for astrophotography at:

Thanks for looking! — Alan

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