My first star trails photo…or how I spent 1.141 seconds of my life


"star trails"

It was almost midnight and my friends have all gone to bed, that is in their tents. It was a long day, we hiked into the wild scenery of Retezat mountains (Romania), up to around 2500 m altitude, through bouldery valleys, peaks draped in clouds, glacier lakes surrounded by bushes of brightly coloured mountain flowers, we met sheep herds and free horses, we had sudden changes of weather, puffy fog (or was it clouds?) rushing from the valleys below and obscuring the path behind us, sun suddenly piercing through the clouds, burning our faces, dark clouds coming over and a sudden deluge of rain. And then the rain would stop and we were picking up fallen branches in the wood to make fire.

"Retezat" There are small things that become enormous joys in situations like this: to change into dry socks and warm pants, to eat with hunger that comes after physical exercise, which makes simple food taste so delicious, like bread and cheese and smoked ham and tomatoes (I’m drooling :), to have a tea with water from the brook heated over the fire and flavored with pine buds taken from the trees near our tents, improved with tzuica (hard Romanian alcohol), to talk and laugh around the fire with close friends. The simple things.

The fire around which we spent the evening was almost extinct. It was getting really cold and there was a lot of humidity in the air, on the grass and on my jacket. But I said to myself, ok, just one more photo. I’ve been wanting for a long time to try to capture star trails. In the city it’s impossible because of the pollution and the lights, but here it was perfect: there were no houses, no cars, no electricity. The stars were so bright and clear and seemed very close. I wish I knew more about astrology.

"Retezat mountains"As it was the first time I did this kind of photo, I didn’t know the exact exposure and I didn’t realize it is so hard to focus the camera in darkness. So I set it on Bulb mode and I thought of an exposure time of 20 minutes. I pressed the remote and started the countdown. To sit in complete darkness and wait for 20 minutes might seem long, but all I had to do was to look up to the magnificent view of the starry sky and time passed. It was almost like a meditation.

Then I got restless, because of the cold, but also because I really wanted to see how the photo would come out. So I stopped the timer just before it reached 20 minutes (to be more exact: 1141 seconds). Then I got into the tent, trying not to wake up my tent-mate, and slipped like a worm inside the cocoon of my sleeping bag, being grateful for its warmth. I still had to wait for the camera to process and save the photo. I think it was about ten minutes more, which seemed like forever, as I was feeling warm and cozy and my eyes were closing. But then the camera finally finished processing it and I saw the photo. I felt happy, like after a job well done and then i fell asleep almost instantly.

"Retezat mountains"

More photos from the Retezat mountains here.

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This entry was posted in Fine art photography, Landscape, Nature, Romania, Travel story and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My first star trails photo…or how I spent 1.141 seconds of my life

  1. Pingback: Hiking in Romania: Poiana Pelegii – Bucura Lake Trail in Retezat National Park - Violeta Matei

  2. Thank you for mentioning my photos, Violeta 🙂
    I hope your article will convince many people to go hiking in the Retezat mountains, they are truly amazing. And of course, travel responsibly and keep them clean.

  3. Neeltje Pater says:

    Great photos, Claudia. And your description of the hike is awesome. It makes me want to be there.

  4. Thanks, Neeltje 🙂 Do you like hiking? Although I haven’t been there, I heard there are amazing places for hiking in the mountains in Canada… Wish I could go there some day 🙂

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