If you read this, I guess you probably read my Timelapse tutorial and saw my many examples. They were all shot during the day, with different weather conditions but always with a lot of light and thus easier to do.
I wanted to make a timelapse with the stars for months now but never had the chance to.
I live in Brussels, a city, in Belgium. The stars are not enough visible due to the city lights so I can’t do it at home. Luckily, I sometimes go to the coutryside and it’s the perfect place (at least in my country) to see the stars.
Being in a good place is not enough though. Great weather to avoid having clouds hiding the stars is mandatory and the time of the year can play a huge part in the visibility of the stars. The perfect time, at least in Europe and probably the northern hemisphere because it’s summer at that time, is in August. Where I go in the countryside, the Milky Way is clearly visible and a lot more stars than other seasons. There’s also the Perseids around mid August.
The obvious question now is “why did I do my timelapse in september then ?” and it’s an easy one : the weather ! The weather during the summer wasn’t very good and I never was in the countryside when it was great so I couldn’t do it.
Another condition is the camera settings. I did a test around June and it wasn’t great because of the settings. It was way too dark and useless in the end. When a shot is too dark, the data of the scene is simply not there and increase brightness/contrast won’t change anything besides ruining the shot. This time, I chose a higher ISO value and knew that I could always lower the brightness/contrast, even if the pictures were to be too bright because the data would have been there. I still had to increase brightness and contrast for this timelapse to show a lot more stars than the original pictures.
Here are my settings for these night pictures on my faithful 808 Pureview :
- Creative mode
- 5MP Pureview, 16/9 ratio
- No Zoom
- Forced ISO value : 800
- Flash on forced OFF
- ND Filter OFF
- Vivid colours
- No exposure compensation
- White balance : sunny
The video is a combination of 2322 pictures (the longest I’ve made) and these settings were used for the two scenes in the timelapse : the view of the valley during dusk and the sky at night with the stars. I didn’t used the ND Filter to force a long exposure time because the scenes were already dark and the phone would do long exposure shots when needed.
As always, try to watch in HD in a bigger window. The Youtube version seems to lag at times but the video is super smooth (here’s the Flickr version if you have the problem).
As a bonus, here’s the star trails picture made with the software StarStaX. It simply combine all the shots to create one with every step of each star’s path, thus creating the trails.