We enjoyed a beautiful display of coloured light as the sun came up on Christmas Day. Following our Christmas Eve turkey dinner with extended family, we relaxed with the other Grandma and Grandpa GeoK on Christmas Day – playing cards, visiting, baking a couple of kinds of cookies, listening to Christmas music and sharing memories from previous Christmas gatherings.
After supper, I asked Mr. GeoK to join me in another attempt at night photography. I feel I’ve learned quite a bit about my camera and about photography over the past year, so as I bundled up and double-checked that I had all my bits and pieces of gear, I was hoping for better results than I ended up with last Christmas break!
It was quiet outside, since most everyone else was at home sitting around the dining room table enjoying their Christmas dinners. We enjoyed the silence and the stars as we walked about 500 meters west before stopping on a small concrete bridge along the footpath. Mr. GeoK aimed his camera towards the Three Sisters, so I scanned the sky for a section relatively free of the light cloud blowing along the valley and ended up looking towards Ha Ling. I soon realized I should have brought a wider lens (I had selected my 60 mm prime lens based on its widest aperture setting) but I made the best of it and got to work taking a few test exposures and then connecting the Triggertrap dongle Mr. GeoK bought me a while back. It was super easy to adjust the exposure time, pause between exposures and number fr exposures in the Triggertrap app on my old iPhone.
Once I pressed the start button, the Triggertrap app took over for the next 15 minutes, so I checked in with Mr. GeoK to see how his set-up was coming along. He was feeling the cold, but slowly working his way up the learning curve. My phone battery was pretty much drained by the time the series of exposures was finished (I hadn’t charged it in a few days). And we were both chilled before Mr. GeoK was able to create a long series of exposures, so we headed for home where we confirmed that he successfully photographed the stars over Three Sisters, although a slightly longer exposure would have been OK too.
After a mug of hot tea, I set about looking for some software to stack my short series of photographs. We use Lightroom for most of our processing, so another tool was essential. In the end, I downloaded a copy of Startrails. Once I figured out that I had to convert my RAW files to JPGs first, it was quite intuitive and within about 10 minutes I made my first-ever star trail image! (Note to self – make a donation to the creator of this app.)
Spending time outside under the stars prompted me to think about the original “silent night, holy night” meaning of Christmas and was a terrific way to end our celebration of Christmas Day.