Star Trails Shift
New here and seeking advice. Recently, I attempted my first Star Trails shot. Was a nice night out in the Sierra Nevadas. Mostly clear skies with the moon behind me and low on the horizion. To test the waters, I took 36 exposures @ 30 seconds and 1 second pause between shots. Went home and processed the stack in Lr & Ps where I noticed a very slight shift in the frame of the last 3 shots. Like those shots moved up and left a couple pixels, enough of a difference to scrap them. I'd show you, but I don't seem to have upload permission yet. So glad I only spent 20 minutes on this experiment and not hours.
My question is, what do you think might have caused this shift? Was it my tripod? The cold night (36F)? Or something else? I set the tripod down on hard-packed earth and stepped away while the program was running. So I'm pretty sure it wasn't vibration. Would appreciate any insights so I can correct it before my next night outing.
- Canon EOS R
- Sigma 24mm Art f/1.4
- Geekoto 58” tripod
- Vello ShutterBoss II remote
And thank you Spencer and team for all the great and well written articles. Has been a joy to read.
Hi @johnk and welcome to our forum! You should be able to upload images now that you've made your first post.
There's no way to know for sure, but what you describe isn't uncommon. It could be that the joints of your tripod shifted slightly because of the cold air - that's my best guess.
In general, star trails software will be able to align small errors like that, so it's not something I would worry about too much for the future.
It doesn't take much to bump or shift a small, lightweight tripod. Walking around it, wind blowing and moving a shutter cable, cold causing a small ballhead or leg joint to creep, a small animal bumping a leg as they wander by, many things. ;-)
Thanks Gents! It's good to know it's not uncommon and fixable. Took a few tries with the auto-align layers in Ps. It fixed the shift, not 100% but much less pronounced. Next time I'll try to remember to weigh down the tripod. Much appreciated!
Very nice! Great composition.
@johnk That's a great photo and I'm amazed it's your first attempt! Nicely done.
Thanks! Been exploring night photography for a couple years now. Only sucessful when good weather and opportunity intersect. All the articles found here from composition to manual mode to post-processing have been a tremendous resource!
Pretty dam good for a first up effort man 🤙
maybe also vibration reduction was on and did a small flippy flop as the temp was dropping?
@charles-e That's a good point! I don't recall if I turned image stabilization off or not. Will include this into a checklist for my next night outing. Thanks!