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May 2013
Filter Forge

Being a photographer, I love experimenting with time and light, and I also personally love space and the night sky, so naturally a great way to bring all of those things together is by doing long exposure star trails.

I’ve never had the time to do them myself and don’t have great places to take them even if I did (living in Los Angeles doesn’t give you great skies), so I decided to generate them on the computer. Filter Forge was used to create a dynamic and controllable generator of stars, atmosphere, and a minimalistic terrain.

Stars are generated as bright points and then smudged across the sky as they are in real life. The haze model is a custom one that incorporates a customizable atmosphere color, haze color, and rayleigh scattering. I later added auroras which really brought life to some scenes, where as other scenes I decided to leave them out because they competed visually with the beauty of the stars.

Many hours were spent tweaking and fine-tuning this filter so it behaved exactly how I wanted it to and gave pleasingly randomizable results. The filter renders great at high-resolutions and I’m actually using these as a background set for my own desktop. I considered doctoring each photo separately to appear as a realistic photo, adding trees, planes, better terrain, and maybe some added grain to make it appear like a photograph, but I decided that the raw output was more artistic and interesting.

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