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Sentinel Dome Star Trails

Posted by
Scott F. Schilling (San Martin, United States) on 3 June 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

Sentinel Dome is just above 8,000' in elevation and the night sky is incredible from this location. This is a 25 minute exposure atop Sentinel Dome, Yosemite, California. I used the lighting effects filter in photoshop to try and add a little bit more visual interest in the photo!

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

This is really beautiful star trails Scott. Amazing work...You patience really awarded with the best photo so far! Is it possible to tell me the rest of the EXIF data for this photo? I really want to try something like that sometime...

3 Jun 2009 5:35am

@dkc: dks thanks for the kind words - on the photo itself - I am using a Nikon D3 at ISO 200 when shooting these images - this was shot in BULB mode with the shutter open for 25 minutes at f/2.8 with a 17-35 mm lens - opened all the way at 17mm. One of the issues that I am concerned about is getting good focus on any foreground elements and distant elements that may have light on them. So I have been increasing the f stop a bit to try to ensure clarity in an area I need it. So I just shot another start trail photograph in Monument Valley which I will post in the next week which I shot with a crescent moon at my back at ISO 200, 20 minute exposure, f/8 with a 17-35mm lens at 17mm. at 20 to 25 minutes this seems to work well - the challenge is finding a focus point and I have been using a bright flashlight to allow a focus point prior to beginning to shoot and then change the camera to manual mode on focus so the camera will allow you to take the shot. Or you can take the shot during the day when there is still enough light to focus then switch to manual focus and don't mess with the focus and re-shoot it in the dark. You will have to experiment and see what you can get - You can also experiment with having Polaris - the North Star in the photo, or shooting another direction for a different look. You will want to have a shutter release cable that has a lock mechanism on it - at least that works good for me on my camera.

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

Wow Scott ... thank you for the great response...I will use the tips for some experiments for sure! Thank you again!

3 Jun 2009 6:06am

Arantza from Menorca, Spain

I want to do night shots, but I have not even tried, I encourage soon. Big beautiful image

3 Jun 2009 7:29am

ishm from dubai, United Arab Emirates

Fantastic star trail shot! love a bonus of a few streaks of shooting star trail...tnx for sharing these valuable info..i might just give it a go as well :)

3 Jun 2009 8:24am

Anna.C from LA ROCHELLE, France

wow ! it's the same place that Don's picture ! another version and also a great shot ! fantastic work !

3 Jun 2009 11:01am

@Anna.C: Anna, thanks for the comment. Don was standing just about 10' to my left when we shot these images on the top of Sentinel Dome, it was a great trip!

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

This is superb Scott! Thanks for the detailed explanation you gave dkc as I would love to do some experimentation.... ;-)

3 Jun 2009 12:00pm

Lee from Fort Frances Ontario, Canada

You found the north star and framed it nicely. Great work Scott.

3 Jun 2009 12:38pm

MARIANA from waterloo, Canada

Fascinating image !

3 Jun 2009 1:36pm

MontereyJohn from Salinas, California, United States

And it worked beautifully! 25 minutes??? Geezers. Did you set the tripod in concrete? Just fabulous.

3 Jun 2009 1:39pm

jeff (aka dogilicious) from Millerstown, PA, United States


3 Jun 2009 2:05pm

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Another great shot, well done!

3 Jun 2009 2:24pm

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

I really like these star shots, and of course, the tree!

3 Jun 2009 2:32pm

ZoomLNZ from Los Angeles Area, United States

You've taken some awesome photos since I've been traveling. I see that you've really mastered HDR. I'm just now learning the technique. Splendid shot, here.

4 Jun 2009 12:13am

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Another stunner. Fabulous photograph.

4 Jun 2009 12:17am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Great shot, Scott, a special series that Ilike very much. I think also that the processing is fantastic

4 Jun 2009 3:54am

Glennis from New Zealand

Very interesting effects. Nice shot.

4 Jun 2009 4:31am

Onlymehdi from Wayne, United States


4 Jun 2009 12:06pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

OK, That's it! I have got to start trying some night photography!
This image is great! I love the star trails, of course, but I really like that I can still see the foreground and light from the sunset...

4 Jun 2009 12:50pm

Lesley from Lincoln, United States

I'm speechless. This is incredible. What talent and skill you have!!

4 Jun 2009 10:54pm

Dawn Bayer from Whitehall, United States


5 Jun 2009 8:39pm

Sandrine from Cincinnati, United States

Awesome shot!

6 Jun 2009 1:16am

Pavan Kaul from Mumbai, India

Absolutely stunning and brilliant Scott! Congratulations:)

6 Jun 2009 10:50am

Sarah from Switzerland

So very cool!

6 Jun 2009 3:28pm

Miguel Almeida from Lisboa, Portugal

Outstandig night shot, 25 min is something but worth it.

8 Jun 2009 11:49am

Double KK Photography from West Richland, United States

awesome photo

9 Jun 2009 6:29am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada


24 Jul 2009 3:01am