A composite star trails image of Sunrise Bridge taken near Punggol Waterway in Singapore on 23 February 2014. The North Polaris is located right behind the Sunrise Bridge and the light pollution is low at the eastern horizon (right of this image) where stars visible to naked eyes can be seen at less than 10 degrees above horizon. If you happen to be here on a clear night, just point your DSLR towards the bridge and you will get a nice star trails arching above the sunrise bridge. The number of stars you will see depend on the following:
1. The light pollution level at the time you are shooting. Light pollution is usually at its lowest level when you shoot a few hours before sunrise.
2. The more celestial objects you image, the more trails you get. So choosing the right time to start shooting is important as it depends on whether you want more trails or lesser trails in your final image. Sometimes, less is more.
3. The quality of the atmosphere will also affect the final result. Atmospheric turbulence can distort images and influence the details of the celestial object you’re imaging.
4. Needless to say, the biggest enemy of astrophotography is clouds. Being able to anticipate weather condition before you start shooting will help you plan your shoot better. Thin clouds that are not easily visible to naked eyes can also affect the quality of your trails.
So contrary to popular belief, shooting star trails isn’t as simple as just pointing your camera towards the sky and expect good result and also it doesn’t require much guesswork if you understand Earth’s rotation relative to your latitude. Join me at my first astrophotography talk in Kuala Lumpur on 12 March 2014 to learn more about star trails photography.