Filmmaker Gavin Heffernan says he doesn’t use any special effects, but the effects in his most recent film, “Star Trails,” are pretty special and proving extremely popular. Indeed, the surreal night sky-lapse has recently been making the Interweb rounds and dizzying viewers. Letting Earth do all the heavy lifting, Heffernan set up his camera in the deserts and mountains of California and a few Canadian locales to shed light on some of the least-illuminated areas of our world. Twenty-five-second-long exposures taken at intervals over two to three hours turn ordinary starlight into glowing spirographs. The trippy short is part of a longer project by Heffernan’s Sunchaser Pictures, documenting Joshua Tree National Park. Take a look at this natural spin art below.
While the sky lighting is interstellar, the light on the rock and tree is closer to home and from a camera flash. Image by Gavin Heffernan
Those straight and dotted lines you see in this film still are lights from aircraft. Image by Gavin Heffernan
The circular effect above is achieved when the camera is pointing directly north or directly south. Image by Gavin Heffernan
The star trails are best filmed away well away from both artificial light and in a moon-free environment. Image by Gavin Heffernan