Creating Vortex Star Trails in Astrophotography Timelapse Videos

by Hugh Brownstone3 Comments

And now for something completely different – Vortex Start Trails

What happens when you take a not-uncommon time-lapse subject (the night sky), add one heaping dose of creativity, and mix with incredible patience and perseverance?

You get Matthew Vandeputte offering us a tutorial on how he created the vortex star trails sequence in his entry to the 2014 David Malin Awards (Malin is a renowned astronomer and photographer born in England who now lives and works in Australia).

Using Lightroom, After Effects and Startax, Vandeputte has done nature one better.

As I watched his entry, I was surprised to find myself thinking “wow, the latest technology and the skill to apply it meets THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.”

And so they do.


How to Create Vortex Star Trails

Via Matthew Vandeputte:

A well known technique in astrophotography timelapse videos are Star Trails, where you ‘drag out' rotating stars. This effect is caused by the rotation of our planet relative to the (in reality) ‘static' stars in the night sky. Pointing your camera at the north or south star with an extended exposure will give you an effect similar to this:

How to create vortex star trails image 1

One year ago, while looking at one of Lincoln Harrison's photos, I came up with a workflow on how to achieve a spiralling or vortex effect for static timelapse sequences. The vortex star trail images are usually created using a zooming device, which zooms in during the recording of the photos, after which you stack them in post and get a spiral as the endresult.

As the timelapse community is very saturated with a lot of the same techniques, coming up with a new workflow to achieve something visually interesting is very thrilling!

Read full details on Matthew Vandeputte's blog “How to create vortex star trails”

(cover photo credit: snap from Matthew Vandeputte's blog)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone