Stunning star trail photography

By Natsumi Penberthy 17 August 2012
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These lovely star trail photos by an amateur photographer from Bendigo bring a new perspective to the night sky.

IN THE DAYS AROUND a new moon, amateur photographer and Victorian dairy logistics worker Lincoln Harrison keeps his finger in the air hoping for a clear, still night when he can slip out to one of his favourite star trail spots on the shores of Lake Eppalock, 25km east of Bendigo.

If the conditions are right he jumps into his car and heads to a location he’d already scouted, reaching it an hour or two before sunset.

He then carefully positions three cameras a couple of kilometres apart, pointing them towards the southern celestial pole, an empty patch of sky within the Octans Constellation, around which stars appear to turn a 360 degree circle throughout the night. 

How to capture star trails


Twenty minutes after the sun dips below the horizon, he snaps off a quick series of bracketed shots to capture the foreground and colours in the sky.

When the last light fades away, Lincoln sets his cameras to open their shutters at 60 second intervals, catching the effect of the Earth’s rotation on our southern stars till dawn – in the winter this takes around 12 hours and five to six hours in summer.

Lincoln’s lenses have to be kept warm to prevent dew forming, so he tends to them throughout the night, applying chemical heat sachets every few hours. In the dark with his cameras are so far apart, he says he spends “most of the night falling over in the dark trying to find them”.

In the end he’ll have a collection of 500-1000 shots that will take another five or six hours to blend together using Photoshop software.

The proof is in the picture


Proving that passion can quickly take you far, the Victorian, who bought his first camera in October 2010, has been covered by The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald, UK newspapers The Telegraph and The Daily Mail and well-known US-based website, The Huffington Post.

“I actually bought [my first camera] to take photos of some eBay items; I had no intention of doing photography as a hobby,” says Lincoln.

Rapidly catching the bug, a week later he was sporting eight lenses and began chasing a shot for his desktop background. He now is out an about with his camera a few times a week, his pastime providing him with many interesting nocturnal stories.  

“I did a shoot last summer just after a major flood; it was very hot and humid and I was knee deep in water the whole night getting eaten alive by mosquitos,” he says, describing the highs and lows of his chosen hobby.

“It was the worst shoot I’ve ever been on, but the end result was the first image I was really happy with.”