I vaguely remember seeing a star trail photograph when I was in either fifth or sixth grade, and somebody explained to me how it is achieved by leaving the shutter open for several hours or all night. It seemed like a fascinating concept to me.
Fast forward to April this year to a photo shoot for Preservation magazine for a story entitled “The Lost Capitals.” I got the assignment to photograph these deserted places that once were capitals, but now were mostly empty spaces.
I was going for an ethereal look, so I spent a few hours under the stars at Old Cahawba, trying a couple of long exposures, but also some safety shots like this nine-minute exposure that included some light painting on the brick column. The longest exposure was 12,576 seconds, just over 3 1/2 hours. I had two cameras set up for that amount of time, each with different compositions. One of the cameras was plugged in to a power inverter from the car’s battery, so it was able to stay open long enough. The other camera’s battery died sometime before it was done, but luckily for me, it still recorded most of the exposure and saved it on the memory card. Those long exposures were ok, but not what I had hoped.