Star Trails Over Sisal Pond

Sisal Pond in Florida’s Everglades National Park is only moderately scenic, but it is farther from Miami than the popular Pine Glades Lake and therefore is perhaps less affected at night by city lights. I made this one-hour exposure (f/4, ISO 200, Canon 35L lens) starting at around 2:00 AM, after the moon had set, on what turned out to be one of the last cool, clear nights before the humidity and rains began in earnest. Temperature was in the 60s with no wind. In hindsight it was a perfect night for photographing stars.

I set up my camera and tripod, focused manually in “Live View” on one of the brighter stars, stopped down, opened the shutter using a wired remote with a hold-down button and started my timer. After the one-hour exposure my camera needed another hour to perform a dark-frame subtraction to reduce noise. While my main camera was tied up with this processing I attempted to take a similar photo using a backup camera with a 21mm-equivalent lens. However, I either did something wrong or the camera failed, and after an hour I found the camera turned off and nothing on the memory card. It may have been a battery problem.

My first photo turned out well and shows a southern view (the stars appear to rotate around the horizon in the center of the image). I have some ideas for other good places to make star-trails images but they will have to wait for clearer weather.

A one-hour exposure reveals the movement of stars in the night sky over a small lake in Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

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