Send Your Christmas Tree into Hyper-Space

December 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Christmas Tree in Hyper-SpaceChristmas Tree in Hyper-Space

Since I posted this picture to my timeline on my personal Facebook page, several folks have asked me how I did this.  It's no big secret, but you have to do a little experimenting until you get a shot that is good enough to show off. I shot maybe 15 to 20 exposures, and out of all those, only one was good enough.  Even so, I know I could have done better.

So, here's what you need to do.

First, you absolutely must have a very steady tripod.  You need to be able to lock down where the camera is pointing to. Since you will be touching the camera while it is exposing the shot,  it is critical that any movement or vibration of the camera is minimized.

Next, you need a zoom lens. Manipulating the focal length while the exposure is being made is what causes the shooting star effect. Compose your picture using the widest focal length. 

Your lighting will be different from what mine was, so I can't tell you how to set your ISO and shutter speed. You'll have to experiment.  Set your camera to "M" or Manual Mode, and make adjustments to your ISO and f-stop.  I set my ISO to 200 and my aperture to f/11 for sharp detailed focus and just a hint of star points 

I finalized my shutter speed, after several tries, settling on 8 seconds. This gave me time to manipulate the zoom lens and still have several seconds of un-moving exposure at the end for firming up the image.

Once you get everything set up, your camera on a tripod, your picture composed in the camera's viewfinder the way you want it to appear at its widest focal length, your shutter speed set to the number of seconds that gives a good exposure and allows enough time for you to zoom the lens, you are ready to have a go at it.

You start with zooming in as close as you want to be. That's where the light trails will start. I was using a 24-105 lens and stood about 12 feet away from my tree. Get a sharp focus in the center of your composition. While holding the zoom ring of your lens, click the trigger. Once the aperture is open, as smoothly as you possibly can, start zooming the lens out to it's widest point. You should try to reach the widest focal length before the shutter closes. You will need a couple of seconds for the image to be steady for it to be captured clearly and well defined, otherwise everything in the shot will be blurry and "ghostly".

This will require many tries, but for the diligent you will be rewarded with a picture that your friends will wonder how you did it. And you will have learned a skill that can be applied to other scenes. Think about, maybe, that Christmas-light-covered house down the street.

Have fun! And have a Merry Christmas.



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