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Six Flags New Orleans: Stacked Star Trails

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four days ago, I wrote about a star trails photo I shot (on a recently urban exploration trip) near the ferris wheel of the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans amusement park. Immediately after taking that photo, I shot 20 extra exposures, lasting 1 minute each, of the same scene. My intention was to combine the 20 exposures to create a single long exposure photo using a program called StarStaX. The photo can be seen below.


10-22mm, 20 minutes (stacked exposures), f/5.6, ISO 100

The primary benefit of stacking multiple photos to create a single exposure is the clarity you can achieve in the photo. Particular in this situation, the skies were heavy with the haze of 42ºC humidity. Six Flags is located only 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the downtown core (the famous French Quarter), so the light pollution was also very intense. Stacking allowed me to cut through the haze, so to speak, and achieve a clarity of star trails not seen in my other long exposure shot of the ferris wheel.

As mentioned above, I used a program called StarStaX (written by Markus Enzweiler).

"StarStaX is a fast multi-platform image stacking and blending software, which is developed primarily for Star Trail Photography. Besides star trails, it can be of great use in other settings. StarStaX allows to merge a series of photos into a single image, where the relative motion of the stars creates structures looking like star trails."

One critical issue with stacking photos like this is to minimize the amount of time between exposures. I used my remote sensor to trigger each exposure, which caused a 1-2 second gap between each one. That may seem insignificant, but if you zoom in on the photo, very slight gaps can be seen in each trail. This isn't something most people would see, but it's still a consideration when using this process/technique for star trails.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results of my first photo stacking attempt and will definitely try it again!

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Six Flags New Orleans: Star Trails

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A star trails photo of the ferris wheel at the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans amusement park.


10-22mm, 10 minutes, f/5.6, ISO 100

This is easily one of the most difficult and most rewarding star trails photo I've done. I was shooting through a thick haze of 42ºC humidity and fighting the light pollution of New Orleans to the west. The bugs were overwhelming as well. All of this was worth it, to get a star trails photo in one of the top abandoned locations in North America!

History
Six Flags New Orleans sits on the eastern end of New Orleans. It was completely flooded by Hurricane Katrina and has sat abandoned ever since. The park sat in brackish flood waters for over a month, causing 80% damage to the structures and rides, rendering most of them unsalvageable.

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Blue Ghost Tunnel

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Blue Ghost Tunnel is located in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. For such a simple structure, the tunnel has a very storied past. It has been known by four different names, operated for approximately 40 years, was the sight of a horrific train collision and sits a short distance from a flooded grave site.

The tunnel's construction began in 1875 by Great Western Railway and was finish a year later. When the tunnel was completed, it was 665 feet in length. In 1882, Great Western Railway was purchased and merged with Grand Truck Railway.

The tunnel was active throughout the 1880s, until a double tracked swing bridge was built a short distance north of its location. From that point forward, the tunnel was used with less frequency. In 1903, the tunnel was the sight of a head on train collison which killed two workers. By 1915, the tunnel had become abandoned and became known as Merritton Tunnel.

By the 1920s, the Fourth Welland Canal was to be constructed. South of the tunnel lay an old abandoned cemetery, which would eventually end up flooded by the pondage area of the new canal. Of the 913 graves, only 250 were removed before the flooding occurred. To this day, there are still watery remnants of the graveyard's tombstones south of the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

For a much more in-depth history of the tunnel, please visit Hamilton Paranormal.

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Homestead

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today's photo is a handheld HDR composition of an abandoned farm house north of Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

I grew up only 7km away from this farm and passed it everyday on the bus to high school in Stratford. I never knew the people who lived there, but, if I recall correctly, it was still an active dwelling last Fall. My guess is the property was sold and the new owners just wanted the land for crop production. The barn, which I also photographed, has been demolished and is now a pile of rubble.


10-22mm, 1/40 second, f/8.0, ISO 100, HDR

I have another set of three HDR exposures that were captured closer to the house. I decided to back away from the building and try again so the trees would appear to be reaching in towards it. Contrary to general practice, I used Photomatix to enhance the dynamic range of the composition, but in what I believe to be a very minimalistic fashion. I was striving for a creepy vibe and the oversaturated colours seen in most photographers HDR work wouldn't have made sense here.

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Sattler Theater

Friday, June 3, 2011

The front row of the abandoned Sattler Theater, awash in rays of light. This photo was taken in March 2007, during my first visit to the theater. I used a Canon Rebel XT (my first DSLR!) and its 18-55mm kit lens.


Canon Rebel XT (my first DSLR), 18-55mm (kit lens), 1/4 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 400

The Sattler Theater is located near Jefferson Avenue. It was opened in 1914 as a 928-seat movie theater at a cost of $35,000. The theater was commissioned by local retailer John G. Sattler and designed in the Beaux Arts style by Henry Spann. In 1920, the Sattler Theater changed hands and became the Broadway Theatre. Even later it became known as Basil's Broadway. The theater became Muhammad's Mosque 23 in the 1960s, then from 1976 to 1984 was owned and operated as God's Holy Temple. Joy Temple Church had a lease on the building from 1987 to 1996. (source: Forgotten Buffalo)

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