<<< o >>>one point five one degrees 38 comments + add yours

I know I've put up a lot of shots of this structure in the last couple of weeks, but it continues to fascinate me, and while this isn't quite what I was after I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out – not least because I froze half to death taking it. There was a 10-mph wind blowing and it was about 3°C, so by the time I'd taken a few exposures I was really cold.

If I were to do this shot again (and I probably will) I would have gone for a longer exposure, mostly because I had no idea that the star trails would be this visible at six minutes. I don't know what I was expecting, but they did surprise me a bit. Also, this shot was about one stop under-exposed; i.e. it should have been a 12 minute exposure, but I miscalculated. I think something around a 48 minute exposure would be interesting, which, under the same lighting conditions as yesterday would mean an aperture of f/16. However, I think this would probably mess up the star trails so will probably need to re-shoot when there's less of a moon.

Oh, and hopefully this one will be a bit better received than yesterday's shot ;-)

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
8.17pm on 28/11/04
Canon 20D
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
17mm (27mm equiv.)
6m 2s
Photoshop CS
rotated 1.21°
3x2 + piers [St. Annes] + night shots [long exposures] + fylde coast [scenic]
comment by Daaave at 08:31 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Dave, I'm going to have to stop visiting your site. I love shots like this, and I just know I haven't got the right equipment. Really, really cool shot, the star trails just set it off perfectly - envious?, me?, YES!

Time to get a bank loan! :/

comment by kyle at 08:31 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Uh, can you explain how you go about "calculating" these things? I've never really experimented past 30 seconds or so at night, but it sure seems interesting. This shot is fantastic.

comment by djn1 at 08:40 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Daaave: thanks. And yes, I recommend bank loans ;-)

kyle: if it's bright enough you'll get a shutter speed of 30s or less at your maximum aperture. So, say it reads 30s you just double it for each additional stop you close the aperture – 1 minute for f/5.6, 2 minutes for f/8, and so on. If it's darker though you need to do a longer test shot at maximum aperture. If it's reasonably exposed you can use the same calculation or try and judge from your histogram what additional exposure is required. Bear in mind though that the numbers become big quite quickly; i.e. eight minutes isn't all that different from nine.

comment by kyle at 08:53 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Thanks for the rule of thumb. That's a good one. I only now need to figure out how to do this on a D70 and maybe I'll give it a whirl some night soon.

comment by frisky? at 09:04 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

this shot is effing SICK!!!! loving this!

comment by James Watkins at 09:10 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

what a stunning photo. Is this structure on a tidal piece of land? what purpose does it exist for? what are the metal structures on the top? Im big into colour. im new to this whole photoblog thing but i WILL return. inspirational.


comment by Ali at 09:15 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

a 48 minute exposure? wow! what are you going to do in the meantime? read a book?

comment by Kai at 09:43 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Ok, that is just incredible.

comment by Thinh Thang at 09:46 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Cool shot. I still haven't figured out how to take long exposures properly yet. The only shots that I've done at night was when we had that eclipse a few weeks back. Also, shouldn't the cropped EXIF data be "rotated 1.51 degrees" instead of 1.21? Perhaps I'm just misinterpreting the title of the photo.

A+ work here!

comment by Aaron at 09:49 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

What I like the most is that the structure is bizarre enough, even without the long exposure. The whole thing feels like a render.

comment by trudie at 10:01 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

kyle--bob over at notraces.com has a d70, i beleive. i am inclined to say that john at orbit1.com has one as well, but i'm not sure. dave posted links to both of them a few days ago. :) i am a sucker for these shots as well.

comment by djn1 at 10:21 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

James: take a look at the description that go with this entry, it explains this structure.

Ali: no, I'm going to get very cold and jump about a lot ;-)

Thinh Thang: no, the image was rotated 1.21 degrees, the title refers to another form of rotation. Can anyone work it out? ;-)

trudie (and kyle): yes, Bob has a D70 but John has (amongst other cameras) a 20D.

comment by Turfdigger at 10:24 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

0.51 degrees of earth rotation?

This is my favorite of this structure so far.

comment by fraxinus at 10:27 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

My first thought was that 0.51 was the longitude - but that's -3.05 of course (that idea went west - excuse the pun). Maybe it's the angle subtended by the star trails? - anyway, an impressive long exposure in a breeze. Never mind the camera - what tripod do you use ??

comment by Jay at 10:34 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Unbelieveable shot!


comment by djn1 at 10:43 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

Turfdigger: yes :-)

fraxinus: it's an old Slik 88 that I've had for about twenty years (I don't think you can get them anymore) which is reasonably solid, and I didn't extend the legs which probably helped. One thing I did worry about, though it doesn't seem to have been an issue, was that this was shot on sand – I did think the tripod might sink a little during the exposure.

comment by Cameron at 10:44 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2004

This is a fascinating and beautiful shot. I can see why you come back to this structure again and again. I would say at a pinch the degrees of rotation are referring to what turfdigger has stated, or it's the ambient Temperature in C?

comment by Frank at 12:57 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Oh now you've gone and done it, I like this. Really other worldly. And while I'll be interested to see further experiments with the shutter, I like these short arcs as they are. (What I'd have never expected is that they are arcs out of concentric circles, rather than straight lines; that's cool.)

How tall is the platform? Do you have a light ladder? (So far all your shots have been from below.)

comment by Jason Wall at 02:15 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004


Does the 20D allow you to specify a shutterspeed longer than 30s? My 10D doesn't, and I'm curious exactly how you accomplished the really long shutter time.

comment by Nancy at 03:09 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Ooooooh, coooooool. I just can't get over the fact that it really is dark out

comment by marc at 04:26 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

hey, how'd you calculate how long to expose for? all my post 30s expsures are just guess work, is there a formula that I don't know about?

comment by james m at 05:55 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Excellent shot Dave, nice colours and really the composition on this one.

Have you had any banding problems like John & Orbit1 has had with long exposures on his 20D.

comment by -curious d100 user at 07:28 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

I'm also curious about the 20D. How does it do with those exposer times? How's the noise... those blues look great!

comment by djn1 at 09:51 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

marc: there isn't a set formula – have a look at my comment above, it's the third one down.

Jason and -curious: I use the remote release TC-80N3 – you can programme any length of exposure.

-curious: the noise isn't a problem. With this exposure I did use Noise Ninja, but I could have got away without it.

james: I've just checked john's site and the banding he mentions is to do with using the on-board flash at high ISOs, he doesn't mention this as an issue with long exposures.

comment by Darrell at 12:19 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

This is just so much better than yesterdays. Strong foreground interest by itself that also anchors the star movement behind. Would really like to see a longer exposure with even more movement but realise light pollution may inhibit this.

Out of interest, do you run a noise reduction utility for these images or are they this good direct from the camera as RAW files?


comment by Darrell at 12:21 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Dave, just saw your previous post about noise ninja so excuse my haste and ignorance.

comment by riff at 02:43 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Alright, since no one's mentioned it..


The star trails, and the commanding stance the structure has on the ground just screams (to the kid in me), "We dont come in peace, we're here to suck your planet's water dry"

comment by miles at 03:25 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

This is gorgeous Dave, it's so much fun to check your site, Bob's and John's for these great exposures. I can't wait to get on the bandwagon :D

comment by Darrell at 03:30 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004


A aged wooden and rusty wrought iron alien spaceship with no visible method of propulsion, habitat, means of storing the water it is here to steal or aliens? Come on, that is just a ridiculous suggestion!

Can you not see this is obviously the aliens docking ramp for when they return to Earth after melting more of our ice caps and reducing H2o salinity sufficiently to meet thier needs so they can siphon it off through giant straws to the waiting mother ship orbiting overhead.

There is little time left my misguided friend. Fill your baths and raid the Evian.....Oh no, they are here to sil.....

comment by Carlos Johnson at 04:04 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

I love the startrails. Reminds me of nights at the observatory in school.

BTW you are 3rd on photofriday this week. I'm beneath you. =)

comment by Carlos Johnson at 04:25 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

You still can get the Slik 88, it's called "U212 Deluxe" in US. I found it at Amazon.

comment by james m at 05:53 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Sorry Dave I should have mentioned this post John started at Fred Miranda on the banding issue.

comment by frisky? at 08:30 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

aalright, i have to say this again: this shot is effing SICK! I would buy this print... I love the warm orange glow of the soft clouds in the background... the star trails... sick.

comment by djn1 at 09:26 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2004

Thanks all.

riff and Darrell: I suspect not, but check tomorrow's shot for more of the same(ish) ;-)

Carlos: thanks :-)

james m: thanks for the link, I'll speak to John about it.

comment by Ricardo at 03:42 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

Nice pic! The structure is indeed haunting. I'd venture we're facing south, which would explain the sun --by then probably rising over California-- just barely painting the distant clouds on the right. Dreamy colors...

Ain't it 1.51 deg? 24h buy 360 deg; that's what 6m2s buy.

comment by djn1 at 04:08 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

Ricardo: you're right about the number of degrees – it should be 1.51 – thanks for spotting the error ;-) But it was around lunchtime in California when this was taken.

comment by Dan at 12:02 AM (GMT) on 9 December, 2004

wow, nice picture...
how do you get a 6 min shutter speed? i thouhgt the canon 20D can only go up to 30 secs.?

comment by joe at 07:20 PM (GMT) on 26 April, 2005

6 minute shutter speed = put camera on bulb setting (one setting past 30 seconds on the 20D). Use your watch or a small kitchen timer for the 6 minute exposure. If you do a lot of night photography, the Canon TC-80N3 does long exposures, countdowns, intervals, time lapse, etc.

For more night photography info, check out the Nocturnes (especially the "Resources" section):