Star trails over Yosemite Falls

Getting There

There’s no secret to this location–this is upper Yosemite Falls, right in the Yosemite Valley of Yosemite National Park. If for some reason “see Yosemite before I die” isn’t written on a piece of paper in your possession, you should probably change that. The park was incredible.

Getting the Shot

This is 35 exposures (25 seconds at f/6.3, ISO 1250, 22mm, shot on my Canon 17-40) stacked in Starstax (gap-filling mode). I highly recommend this free software, available online. Stacking shorter images (rather than taking one longer image) has several advantages, including less noise in the final image and the ability to remove a frame or two if something bad unexpected occurs (such as airplanes, car headlights, etc) during your exposures.

Basically, I pulled up next to this meadow at about 11 pm, set up my camera, took a few test shots to check my composition and my settings, double-checked my focus, and then I set my intervalometer to take 50 exposures. Then I walked back to my car, kicked back the driver’s seat, and tried to enjoy a short nap. About 10 minutes in, someone pulled up behind my car and sprayed the entire meadow with their headlights, disturbing my nap. I ended up tossing that exposure in the trash. After about 30 shots, a blanket of high clouds moved in, eventually covering the sky (and shifting my white balance, which was set to auto). I threw away many of those frames as well.

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