Photograph Star Trails at Silver Lake

Rate this Adventure Utah Silver Lake, Brighton

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A beautiful, easily accessible lake, surrounded by mountains, with skies dark enough to see and photograph the Milky Way.

Silver Lake is one of the easiest, most accessible hikes in the Wasatch, located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, close to the ski resorts of Brighton and Solitude.

The lake is accessible all year; with a boardwalk or a well-signed path circling the lake through spring to fall. In the winter the lake become a frozen snowshoe and nordic skiing area.

A full hike around the lake takes about 30 minutes, with many vantage points along the boardwalk to make using a tripod even easier.

For Milky Way photos, start by find a good spot on the lake and angle you camera towards the south (to photograph the galactic core). At Silver Lake, due south happens to be looking towards the main area of Brighton Ski Resort.

For the single Milky Way images featured, a Canon 5D Mark III with a Rokinon 24 mm (f/1.4) lens was used, with the following settings:

  • ISO1000 to ISO2000
  • Shutter speeds/exposure times: 12 to 20 seconds
  • Aperture: f/2.0 f/2.0 (stopped down from f/1.4)
  • Other settings of note: Evaluative metering, automatic white balance

For the panoramic Milky Way image featured, 16 images were taken rotating the camera at a stationary mark and subsequently stitched together. For each frame of the panoramic image, a Canon 5D Mark III with a Rokinon 24 mm (f/1.4) lens was used with the same following settings:

  • ISO1000
  • Shutter speeds/exposure times: 20 seconds
  • Aperture: f/2.0 (stopped down from f/1.4)
  • Other settings of note: Evaluative metering, automatic white balance

For the star trail photos featured, a Canon 5D mark iii with a Rokinon 24 mm lens was used to take 50 individual photographs using the following settings and stacked using Photoshop:

  • ISO2000
  • Shutter speed: 20 seconds
  • Aperture: f/2.0 (stopped down from f/1.4)
  • Other settings of note: Evaluative metering, automatic white balance

Pack List

  • DSLR camera
  • Wide angle lens
  • Tripod
  • Remote
  • Red-light headlamp
  • Warm clothing
  • Be aware of local information, including any road closures, and early spring avalanche dangers.
  • Be aware that local wildlife often roams the lake and surrounding areas at night, especially after the ski resorts have closed and there is less traffic.
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

1 Miles

Features:

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Lake
Romantic
Scenic

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Added by Bryony Richards

British (with a touch of American, South African, and European) wilderness and landscape astrophotographer, geologist, and research scientist based in Salt Lake City, Utah ↟

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