Clifton Suspension Bridge under a Star Trail

Planning the Star Trail Shoot

I had been thinking for a while now how I might capture the stars behind the Clifton Suspension Bridge. As I live quite locally to it I went over on a few nights to scout out things like light pollution and angles. I settled on the South West view from the Clifton side of the gorge.

Doing a bit of planning from home I used the website SunCalc.net. It is a super useful site that gives you precise timings and directions for daily astronomical events like sunrise and sunset, but also, more importantly, it tells you when astronomical twilight ends and true night begins.

The Execution

When the atmospheric conditions were right I went down to the bridge and set up the camera. After some test shots, I decided to 2.5 Second exposures at f/2.8 with an ISO of 800.  After the shoot, it all looked fine on the back of the camera so back home I went and loaded them into Lightroom. The exposure was all wrong! The bridge was too bright and I couldn’t get the stars to register behind the light pollution…I went to bed somewhat disheartened.

The next week I went out again, but arriving there I found that a light mist was coming in, not ideal, but I did set up to do some more tests. I found out that at some point in the night they turn some of the lights out on the bridge which made the shot so much easier.

The next night there was no mist just a clear starry sky. I arrived at about midnight and by the time I was set up they had turned some of the lights off. The settings I ended up with was a 4-second exposure, f/2.8 at ISO 400. I took 518 photos with the last one being exposed for the bridge and trees.

Editing the Composite

When I got home I loaded all the images into Lightroom to do the basic edits, colour correction and masking. I exported all the finalised images and opened them as layers in Photoshop to do the composite. Then I moved the last images I had taken on top of the rest and masked around the bridge to it expose it how I wanted.

Clifton Suspension Bridge under a Star Trail
518 Photographs, 4 Seconds, f/2.8, ISO 400
External Link to my Portfolio
Prints Available

A brief Conclusion

I was happy with results and I learned loads from the failed attempts.

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