Joshua Tree Star Trails and a Full Moon
Monday, October 4, 2010 at 5:21PM
Nathan Ciurzynski in Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree Pictures, Photography Tips, Photos, Travel, joshua trees, national park pictures, night photography exposures, photos of the moon and stars, pics of shooting stars, shooting stars pics, star trail photography, stock photo images
Normally, when shooting star trails, a new moon (or moonless night) is preferable since it darkens the sky and provides incredible detail in the star clouds that can only be seen in night skies far removed from city lights. Recently, I spent the evening in Joshua Tree National Park capturing time lapse images of the park's landscape during a near full moon. This shot below was taken during "The Golden Hour" as I was waiting for the sun to set.

The moon was illuminated 97.6% just 2 days after the full moon of September 23, 2010. If you'd like to check out a free tool that I used to help me identify the illumination level and location of the moon across the sky on this particular evening, visit:

In a normally very dark place, like Joshua Tree N.P. at night, it can be very, very difficult to see anything except with a flashlight. This is a result of there being no lights in the sky for miles causing little to no ambient light. On a dark night there, you can barely see your hand in front of your face. Not on this night with a near full moon. The landscape was illuminated as though a light bulb in one corner of the sky had been turned on and unlike the sun's light, this light was soft, diffused, and provided very few harsh shadows. In fact, the shadows that it did produce enhanced the image. The moonlight actually lit the Joshua Tree quite nicely without requiring any additional artificial light, like that which is normally used to light foreground objects in star trails photos.

The image below required 113 exposures taken with the following settings: f/8.0, ISO 640, shutter speed of 30 seconds. The sequence lasted from 10:37p.m. through till 11:35p.m.

Here'a view of the same 113 images set in a time lapse movie. I set the fps to 24. To learn how to compile images into a time lapse movie, visit our other article titled, "How to Create a Time-Lapse Movie from Still Shots."

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