Due North

Combestone Tor, Dartmoor.

The light had just started to fade when my mobile went off, it was a text my friend Richard Taylor about to bend my ear and get me out into the cold and harsh landscape of Dartmoor for another star trail. I instantly agreed and gave my old college friend and now pro photographer David Clapp a shout as I knew he had just bought an Astro Trac he was keen to start trying out.

When we arrived at Combestone Tor we were greeted with harsh biting winds and thought this could be a struggle to keep going for the shot I wanted. About half an hour in Richard and myself were about ready to go and start the exposures needed for the trail. It was pitch black due to the new moon and we had to use a torch to find a focal length on the tor in the foreground, a couple of trial exposures and I found f4.5, ISO400 and an exposure of 30 seconds was right for the shot. I quickly attached the wired trigger and locked on the exposure, it was now a waiting game with one thing to remember. I am not sure about Canon but with my Nikon it will only take 100 images on continuous shooting therefore 50 minutes into the shoot I had to release the trigger on the remote, wait for the shutter to close and instantly restart it again thus fooling the camera into another possible 100 frames.

The cold really started to bite and my feet were starting to get a little painful, a new pair of boots were in order I thought along with some decent socks. Dave was still trying to setup and getting a little frustrated to start with but once everything was in place and was using the correct body he started to get some absolutely stunning images although light pollution from Plymouth was an issue.

Richard discovered part way through he was shooting with the wrong settings and had to ditch the first 100 or so images and started again some 50 minutes in. Half an hour later we were done and cold had beaten me by now and with about 160 shots in the bag it was time to head home and kill the laptop.

All 159 images were initially imported into Lightroom where small adjustments were made to the first image before syncing the remaining images. This ensures all the images get the same treatment in a quick and easy click of the mouse, anything for an easy life.

The images are then exported from Lightrrom as JPEG files before being imported into a free to download application ‘Startrials.exe’ available to download from here.

The final tweeks were completed in Photoshop where I blended a seperately captured image of the foreground to provide the detail. A little more information on blending is available to view on the blog entry ‘Bowerman The Hunter‘ in the same location ‘Processing’, although I do intend to add another short tutorial in the need future.

You can find Combstone Tor at the following OS Map Reference SX671718. This must be the easiest tor on Dartmoor to get to as there is a car park located about 25 yards away on the south side.

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