Star Trails Over Gainesville

November 13, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I thought it would be a good idea to visit the boardwalk overlook at Paynes Prairie after dark to shoot star trails in the vast openness of the prairie. Boy was I wrong, for so many reasons. Let me explain why.

First of all, it's not at all as secluded as I had hoped. There were people coming and going along the pier all night. I had both cameras with remote triggers all set up and tried waiting out a few couples, only to be greeted by yet another group of people bouncing down the pier boards. Impossible circumstances for the long exposures I needed. I finally gave up and moved the set-up off the pier out to the banks of the wetlands.

However, that was not without risk, you see, this is a preserve, in Florida... filled with gators!  There were so many in the water, I could hear them growling. I swept my flashlight across the water and was shocked to see 20-30 pairs of red glowing eyes staring back at me! I giggled with glee, because that is a photography bucket list item of mine, to get imagery of the dark swamps filled with these prehistoric creatures in the dark with their red eyes glowing, but that is for later.

I was also shocked to learn it was not as dark as I expected for a preserve, but that makes sense when to the North is the city of Gainesville, the source of the light pollution. I knew I could work with that though, getting most of it out of the images in post production. But I forgot about the airport. So. Many. Planes. If you know what it takes to shoot star trails, you know it takes literally hundreds of images to make a single trail image. I cringed at the thought of editing out all those planes from hundreds of images, but I continued on.

After a few hours of shooting, I had enough photos to put together for the final image you see below, shot with two separate cameras over the course of a couple hours. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it is the best with what I had to work with. Oh, and so I don't let you down, I'm throwing in a few photos of the glowing eyes...

Star Trails Over Gainesville, FLStar Trails Over Gainesville, FLStar trails spin over Gainesville, Florida with the wetlands of Paynes Prairie in the foreground.

Gainesville GatorGainesville Gator Gainesville GatorGainesville Gator


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