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Star Trail Adventures - Part 2

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

The group and I traveled down about 30 minutes west to Kirby Storter Roadside Park, and it looked as if the weather app was correct. However, clouds were low hanging around to the North of the park. The skies to the South were mostly clear.

The first shot was from the parking lot, checking the settings and focus. When I saw the tail of the Milky Way sticking up over the horizon, I felt like I was back in my element. I had connected again to the world. We are currently in times have been a bit on the wonky side of late.

However, seeing the Milky Way hanging up there always reminds me that I'm just a little human walking along the surface of a pebble in the universe. There is only us with every lie we tell, every hurt we commit, every love we give, and every joy we share. We are just stories at the end; we only need to make them a good one. It would be nice if the stories had a bit more kindness in them.

Night Sky in the Florida Everglades - Parking Lot
A trip into the night...
Gear and Settings Used - I used the Olympus O-MD E-M1 II, MZuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO at 7mm, and a MeFoto Globetrotter Tripod. The camera settings were f/2.8 with a 15-second shutter speed at 1600 ISO and edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I've shot here before, and the camera settings like ISO and f/stop are the same. The only change I make is the shutter speed because it changes with my focal length using the 500 rule.

I had two shots on my list, one facing North and one South. With the clouds in the North, I placed my camera to the South about 4ft from the Kirby Storter Roadside Park plaque. I double-checked my hyperfocal distance (4ft) and set up the live composite settings. I created two live composite shots—one for the light Painting and the other for the star trails. I also planned to do some light painting to give the foreground more interest.

Stars and big rock painted with light and stars.
Kirby Storter Roadside Park
Gear and Settings Used - The settings and equipment are still the same for the first live composite. However, I used the Live Composite setting with 63 captures for a total exposure of 15.75 minutes. I also did a bit of light painting with the Nanlite Pavutube II set at the lowest power setting with a green and red hue. Another red light source was from a photographer walking with their red flashlight. I edited the image in Adobe Lightroom using Photoshop and Luminar NEO to balance out some tonal ranges.

The clouds to the North broke up a bit before the end of the time at the park, so I set up on the other end of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the clouds from the West moved in and shortly covered the skies.

Night landscape with stars, grass and light painting
Zoomy Zoom....
Gear and Settings Used - Like the rest of the images taken here, the setting and equipment are still the same. The only modification was for the Live Composite setting with 68 captures for a total exposure of 17 minutes. There were only a few global edits in Adobe Lightroom made when I got home. I also did a bit of light painting with the Nanlite Pavutube II set at the lowest power setting with a green hue. The streaks are from the cars and trucks whizzing by... Zoom!

I would have tried to create shapes and forms with light Painting instead of lines if I had done anything differently. The lines I made were a simple fix. I used them to help de-emphasize the flatness of the area by adding an illusion of depth.

By the time I wrapped up the final exposure, everyone had been shooting for about four and a half hours plus driving time. Additionally, everyone had a long drive home and would be getting home sometime around midnight. (I think the bugs were also winning!) So we said our good-byes and rolled up the night.



  • Olympus now OM Digital Solutions has a unique feature called Live Composite mode. The camera continuously shoots a series of images with the same exposure time. The camera combines all the images into a single composite. However, only the first image records the ambient exposure of the background or foreground.

  • Light Painting is moving a light source through a long exposure. Photographers use it to create shapes, forms, lines, words, or something extraordinary.

  • The 500 Rule is a quick calculation for figuring out the shutter speed by dividing 500 by the focal length. I'm using a modified version here because of the sensor on the camera, and I'm creating Star Trails.

Edited 3/17/22

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