Star Trails over Zion Canyon

Zion National Park — 2014 View Full Star Trails Portfolio »

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Image Notes

For the last two years I've rented a home in Springdale, Utah,the gateway town to Zion National Park. The home overlooks the Virgin River and a 1/2 mile walk across the river and up a dirt maintenance road leads to an excellent elevated view of Zion Canyon. Shortly after I arrived in early October of 2014, we had warm clear weather just a few days past the full moon — ideal conditions for my first Star Trails photograph of the trip. I set out that evening a little after 9 pm, trudged up the dirt road, and set the camera up on a slope safely off the road. I made some test exposures for composition and ISO, and then programmed the internal timer to start exposing images at midnight. The idea was to capture the images as the moon rose and slowly illuminated the entire canyon.

Pre-timing an exposure will eat some battery life and reduce the total amount of exposures you get. In my experience with my camera, a freshly charged battery can take about 345-360 exposures on a warm evening. When I returned early the next morning to retrieve the camera, it had managed 336 successful images, which you see combined here in the photograph.

About the Star Trails Images

I first dived into Star Trails photography during a trip to the White Mountains of California during the Perseids meteor shower of August, 2012. A small group of us, having taught photography workshops in the Whites, had the unique opportunity to stay at the Crooked Creek White Mountain Research Center at an elevation of 10,100 feet. Despite some initial failures, it only took a couple nights of photographing to get hooked.

Star Trails images are exposed in 20-30 second intervals in succession for 160 to 500+ exposures which equates to 2 to 6 hours of exposure. Images are uniformly processed in Adobe Lightroom and then stacked in Star Stax. Once stacked, I spend hours meticulously spotting noise and nighttime objects out of the image in order to create a final Pigment Ink Prints of exceptionally quality and longevity. Prints are available in limited edition at very reasonable valuations. I've also provided an extensive tutorial for anyone interested in trying Star Trails photography for themselves.

Star Trails over Zion Canyon

Star Trails over Zion Canyon

Zion National Park — 2014

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