Night Sky in Uyuni


This was taken from outside the small hut we slept in on the first night of our Uyuni Salt Flats tour in Southern Bolivia, at about 11 PM. Its a nearly 12 minute exposure and one of the only times I used the tabletop tripod that I had brought along with me on the trip. I placed the tripod on a small pile of dirt, aimed at the sky, and left the shutter open while I went back inside to warm up (it was approaching the zero celcius mark outside). A nearly cloudless sky, and a lack of civilization as far as the eye can see, made the perfect setting for this shot.

I’ve attempted to do star trail shots before, but this is far and away the most successful shot I’ve ever put together. I wanted to take a much longer exposure, but we had no electricity that night, and I knew it would be another two days before I saw a power outlet. With only two working batteries at this point, I had to conserve power as much as possible, and these shots are significant battery drainers. For those who don’t know how this kind of shot is achieved, there are two methods. The first method, which I did not use, is to take a large number of shots of the sky, without moving the camera and then merge them together into one shot. Over time, the stars will move across the sky and the shot, and when the shots are merged, it will appear as if the stars are creating a trail across the picture. The alternative method, which I used for this shot, is to use a remote shutter release for the camera and put the camera in ‘bulb’ mode. In this mode, you click to open the shutter, and the shutter stays open until you manually release it. As the stars move across the sky, the light they emit hits the sensor of the camera, and the camera records a star trail. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the star trails are.

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