Last night I awoke as nature demanded. In our upstairs bathroom (Vermont) we have a skylight and last night was the first clear one we have had in awhile. The stars showing through the trees and the skylight were beautiful and in my half awake state I made a note that the scene was worth capturing someday. As I have written before, some pictures insist on being made. So even though I returned to bed, the picture still called. Being careful to not awaken Claire, I got my camera and tripod and setup in the small bathroom. Luckily, I had been thinking about doing a star picture so I was somewhat prepared with the needed technique. And thus I could do this in 10-15 minutes and be back in bed.
Initially I was just going for pinpoint stars and would use the bathroom night light to illuminate the skylight frame. But the skylight, being glass, was picking up too many reflections. When I killed all the light, I got the stars but nothing of the frame and the trees. I then decided that maybe star trails would allow an exposure long enough. For those unaware, really long exposure times (greater than say 10 seconds) on digital cameras require a second image to be shot to reduce colored specks referred to as "noise". I initially tried one minute, then two and I began to have the trees emerge from the sky background. But the trails generated by the Earth's rotation were too short to be aesthetically pleasing. I then tried 5 minutes and then finally 10 minutes. Thus the last exposure took a total of 20 minutes with the noise reduction shot. The frame never really was exposed other than some of it showing in the lower right. But in the end I got close to what I had envisioned and after 1.5 hours I could return to bed. As Roy would say Happy Trails to You for the remainder of 2012 and into next year. Nikkor 17-55mm/2.8 @ 17mm, f4, 10 minutes and long exposure NR on.