Superstar blazes trail of light

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 16/09/2013
Ray Salisbury star shot
RAY SALISBURY

PERSONAL BEST: Photographer Ray Salisbury thinks this long-exposure shot of star trails over the Nelson Lakes is the best he's ever taken.

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Nelson photographer Ray Salisbury spent the last night of winter shooting outside at Nelson Lakes to get just one "ultimate" star trail picture.

Star trail shots use long camera exposures to capture the apparent movement of stars in the night sky.

"It looks like God is flinging the stars around but it's actually the Earth's movement," said Mr Salisbury.

Describing the epic lengths he went to for the shot, Mr Salisbury said he headed out to Lake Rotoiti on August 30 on a "spur of the moment decision".

At the lake he set up a tripod near the jetty just before dusk, pointing his camera south toward the Southern Celestial Pole.

He set up the shot by creating a sequence of 45 long exposures, each of five minutes duration. Mr Salisbury said he was concerned the lens might fog up with condensation during the long hours outside, but perfect conditions and a lack of dew meant his worries were unfounded.

During the test sequences in the early evening, Mr Salisbury had to protect his set-up from anything which might move the camera and make the shot blurry or spoil the composition. This included "50 ducks, 30 gulls, 20 eels, a dozen small children, and a boatie which took forever to move away".

To get the halo of fire around him, he swung steel wool in a circle, but said the process of getting it to light was a "trade secret".

Despite his camera running out of battery three and a half hours into a five-hour shooting sequence, Mr Salisbury felt the shot was the best he had ever taken.

Passionate about low-light photography and nature, he had spent eight previous nights outside "perfecting his technique".

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