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Author: leanne + susie

Dark Table

Dark Table

Last weekend we went to Dark Table for dinner. We had heard of Dark Table but this was our first time to try it out.

The Dark Table experience is like no other in Vancouver. Upon arrival, we were shown to the outdoor lounge (it’s cold in winter so dress warmly) and given menus. After making our selections we were introduced to our server, Dustin, who took us inside. There is absolutely no light in the dining room so we were led to our table single file, hands on shoulders. The servers are all blind or sight impaired so when you pass through the doors of Dark Table you are entering a world of darkness similar to theirs. With Dustin as our guide and helper we felt totally safe. This is huge for me as I hate walking in darkness. I remember the first time Susannah and I went camping and we walked down the camp road late at night to get to the bathrooms and I was completely freaked out by the surrounding blackness.

We were guided past several tables and then turned to the left to reach ours. Once seated, Dustin explained how the dinner service would work and then left us. It felt a bit weird sitting opposite each other in complete darkness. We could hear other people but had no idea how near or far away they were. Susannah and I slowly explored our surroundings with our hands to see how big the table was and what was on it.  Dustin returned and served the wine that we had ordered. I was quite worried about knocking my stemmed wine glass over but the tables are quite spacious with nothing superfluous on them so it was pretty easy to find a safe spot for my glass that I could locate again.

We had ordered the three-course (no-meat) dining experience. Our “surprise” starter arrived and placed in front of us. I soon learned how hard it is to pick up a mouthful of food from a bowl when you can’t see. I think my first three forkfuls came up empty. I’m a big “Hell’s Kitchen” fan and I love the “taste it, make it” sections where contestants have to identify elements of a dish then recreate it. I have a bit of a super-nose so I thought I’d be better at identifying what I was eating but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected. I could easily pick things like tomato, cucumber, eggplant, but then there was a grain that I struggled to identify. I thought it was couscous or quinoa but it turned out to be bulgar wheat.

Susannah and I ordered different main courses – I ordered the vegetarian surprise and Susannah ordered the prawn risotto. We were able to sample each other’s dishes by carefully pushing our plates toward the center of the table. Susannah’s risotto was nice and the prawns were perfectly cooked but my “surprise” dish was disappointing. It wasn’t so much a case of not being able to identify elements of the dish, but more that it didn’t really have much flavor. Still, it was fun to try to identify the components of each dish.

The dessert was lovely and we both got a good handle on what it was.

Overall I’d say the food was a bit underwhelming.  It’s true that some of the appeal of dining-out comes from the food’s presentation. By removing the ability to tease the palate visually, the experience relies on texture and flavour. The depth of flavour was missing from the menu at Dark Table so the food was a bit bland.

The experience though was something else. I’m not sure if “enjoyed” is the right word, perhaps “appreciated” is better. It was definitely worth going to challenge ourselves and to gain more of an understanding of others.  I would recommend it if you’ve never been before.

If you’ve been to Dark Table, let us know your experience in the comments below.

 

 

 

Heritage Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum

Heritage Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum

It’s that time of year again. As Fall turns into Winter, the skies are grey more often than not, the temperature drops, and it rains a lot. This year we’ve even seen a pretty good amount of snow. I often struggle a bit in Winter, both with mood and motivation, but one thing that I do love about this season is the fantastic lighting displays that are created in and around Vancouver.

One event I enjoy every year is the Burnaby Village Museum’s Heritage Christmas. This free event has something for the whole family. There’s a variety of entertainment, a scavenger hunt for the kids, and fantastic vintage themed lighting displays.

the main street at Burnaby Village with lights
The Main Street

Christmas bears in sweaters at the Burnaby Village Museum

the dancing ladies at Burnaby Village with lights

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This light display in the Bandstand is sound activated and changes colours which is fun when the Village gets busy.

the bandstand at Burnaby Village with people

 

This year there are musicians scheduled throughout the day and evening – here’s the Irish “choir master” leading the crowd in a sing-along at the bandstand.

sing along at Burnaby Village

There are also heritage carol singers roving through the Village.

Carol singers at Heritage Christmas, Burnaby

The scavenger hunt requires some looking in windows and careful observation of the displays.

Ladies light display at the Burnaby Village Museum
“9 ladies dancing”

Father Christmas is onsite as well.

Father Christmas at Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas

There is a lot to see and do, no matter what the time of day or the weather. I really enjoy the warming heritage atmosphere, even in the snow!

Cabin in snow at Heritage Christmas

Elworth at Burnaby Village

The giant Christmas tree at Burnaby Village

Lights on the tram barn at the Burnaby Village Museum

This year Heritage Christmas runs from November 19, 2016 – January 2, 2017 (closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Check it out. Just remember, it’s cold when the sun goes down so dress warmly and, as always, have fun.

Enchant – Vancouver’s Christmas Light Maze

Enchant – Vancouver’s Christmas Light Maze

Enchant, the world’s largest Christmas light maze, has opened in Vancouver. We attended the Premier Media event to see the lighting of the 60+ foot Christmas tree and to experience all that Enchant had to offer.

So how was it?

I’ll start by saying the light displays are awesome. The Media Premiere came after a huge storm the night before that saw the venue suffer some opening setbacks, and it poured with rain while we were there, but even so, we loved the light displays.

60ft Christmas tree in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
The 60 foot Christmas tree central to the maze
light tunnel in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
An amazing light tunnel
Reindeer lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Beautiful light displays and reindeer

As perfect as we wanted the evening to be (especially for photos and video), remember that this year, November in Vancouver is proving to be extremely wet so you should definitely dress for the weather. Umbrellas are ok but the organisers are expecting thousands of people so the venue is likely to be crowded.  I’d recommend dressing for the weather; rain boots, raincoats, hoods, toques, and gloves. The terrain of the maze is wood-chip which is generally great for soaking up water, but having experienced it after a storm and during a deluge, I would say that while the site is accessible, it’s not easily so. If you are bringing a stroller, go for an all-terrain one or leave the stroller at home and use a carrier. For those with wheelchairs or scooters, the terrain would be quite challenging if wet. Not impossible, but very challenging.

Kids will love it. The printed card that you get when you enter is like a scavenger hunt. Find all 9 of Santa’s reindeer within the maze, get your card stamped at each one and, once completed, exit knowing you have helped save Christmas. There’s a whole story to the saving of Christmas and a storybook you can buy as well.

Reindeer lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze

Santa is onsite too which is fun.

Kids meeting santa in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Remember, you are helping Santa save Christmas
Santa in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Selfie with Santa

There is food available for purchase with 12 food trucks on site. We love Disco Cheetah so that’s where we beelined, but there were other good eats as well – tacos, hot dogs, pub fare, mini donuts, glow-in-the-dark cotton candy etc. There’s also a covered area with some seating and a bar that serves a variety of winter warming beverages – the mulled wine was great on a cold, wet evening. There are not a lot of sheltered areas though so if it’s wet and crowded this could be a problem. There’s live entertainment in the tent area – on our night Topline Vocal Collective performed and they were outstanding.

The Marketplace is a large covered tent area worth checking out. Over 40 local vendors are featured so it could be a great place to do a little Christmas shopping. Support local!

Marketplace in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
The Marketplace

Enchant Vancouver is located in the Olympic Village at W1st Ave & Crowe St, just East of Cambie. There is a parking area right next to the entrance of Enchant, but that’s for staff. Go about a block further East and there’s a larger lot with free parking. There are parking people at the entrance to direct you, but the lot has no lights and no signage at the entrance so I think many people simply didn’t know it was there.

Enchant Vancouver is on now until December 31st. Ticket prices are as follows:

Adult tickets 16+ $19.95
Child 6-15 years $14.95
Seniors 65+ $14.95
Family Pass $59.95 (2 adults & up to 3 children)

The big question – is it worth it? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I think that the lights are really good, the concept is great and perhaps next year with a few kinks ironed out, this could become one of Vancouver’s regular go-to events. As I’m all about photography it was definitely on my must-see list and with that in mind, my only real complaint was the weather, but hey, we live in RainCity, right?

Hanging lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
A walk through light display

If you are going, or if you have been, let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

Fright Nights at Playland

Fright Nights at Playland

It’s Halloween time again. That means it’s also time for the spooktacular Fright Nights at Playland! With 15 rides, 7 haunted houses, live shows and an ensemble of roving actors, it’s a full evening of freakish entertainment.

This year we were lucky enough to be provided with Rapid Passes to Fright Nights (thanks CTV YVR!). Rapid Passes gave us expedited access to each of the haunted houses and 5 of the most popular rides at Playland (The Beast, Hellevator, Atmosfear, Music Express, and the Wooden Roller Coaster). It was very crowded so it was awesome to be able to by-pass the long line ups. With almost no wait time we were able to get on all 5 rides, plus The Corkscrew, Hell’s Gate, and Crazy Beach Party, as well as see all the haunted houses.

The rides were awesome and by the end of the evening I was pretty hoarse from shrieking – in fun and fear.  The Beast is touted as Canada’s most extreme pendulum ride, and it really was quite extreme. We sat in the outward facing seats and held on for dear life! I think I was actually shaking from the adrenaline rush when we got off the ride. The Wooden Roller Coaster was bone-rattling fun and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting. Built in 1958 this famous ride can only be described as an oldie but a goodie.  After the ride, check out the photos taken on the second drop – the range of facial expressions is good for laugh. My other favourite was Atmosfear which is a giant 360 degree swing 218 feet up in the sky. Oddly enough, being so high wasn’t scary and the views of the city were incredible, making this ride very enjoyable.

The Haunted Houses were fun. Keeper’s Doll Factory and the Haunted Mansion were my favourites but Fear was pretty good too. With the variety of houses there’s pretty much something for everyone on the spectrum of fear.

Here’s a POV video of our fun-filled Fright Night!

If you love all things Halloween and are up for a bit of an adrenaline rush, this could be for you. Fright Nights runs until October 31 so there’s still time to go and face your fears.

Hiking to St Mark’s Summit

Hiking to St Mark’s Summit

The St Mark’s Summit hike is an 11km round trip, with 460m elevation and some challenging terrain. The views along the way are amazing but nothing can prepare you for the vistas over Howe Sound from the Summit itself.

The trail to the Summit can be accessed from the Cypress Mountain Downhill parking lot. Head North towards the chairlift and look for signs for the Howe Sound Crest Trail. St Mark’s Summit is 5.5km along the Howe Sound Crest Trail which runs 30km from Cypress Mountain to Porteau Cove.

The Trail begins as gravel but after some time will become a myriad of tree routes and steep switchbacks. Watch your feet carefully. As a novice hiker I found this trail quite challenging and took many short stops to rest. Happily, there are many places where it’s worth stopping to admire the view.

When you reach the first trail map board look for an opening in the forest to your right. You’ll see a magnificent view of the Lions.

There are several peek-a-boo views of the Sound along the way.

When you reach St Mark’s Summit you’ll see a marker pole on the trail itself. Turn to your left and scramble up the rocks. From the numerous viewpoints at the edge of the ridge you’ll get incredible vistas of Howe Sound. What makes the scenery even more spectacular are the sheer drop-offs, as the cliffs seem almost vertical, really emphasizing their height.

Along with the views you’re likely to see some wildlife. There was a family of ravens checking us out as we rested at the top.

Along with a couple of curious chipmunks.

After about an hour at the top we began to make our way back. About 2/3 of the way down we came across a tree trunk where previous hikers had marked their passing by stacking small rocks. We added a rock each to the pile to acknowledge the trail before continuing on our way.

By the time we arrived back at the carpark it was dusk and the temperature had dropped significantly. Although it was a really hot day and we wore T-shirts hiking, we were prepared for the weather to change. Given the mixed terrain and the mountain’s elevation, I’d recommend being fully prepared when tackling this hike. Take plenty of water, warm clothes, a first aid kit and bug spray.

This hike could take anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on fitness, speed and how long you stay at the top. Don’t rush it, it’s worth hanging out at the Summit awhile where you will literally feel on top of the world. I did this hike on my birthday and couldn’t think of a better place to be.

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove

The Quarry Rock hike in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, is super popular with both locals and tourists. It’s a 3.8km round trip walk, takes between 1-2 hours, and has an elevation gain of 100m.

Start at Deep Cove and follow the signs for the Baden Powell Trail.  Once you enter the forest be prepared to begin the stair master as much of the elevation gain seems to occur in the first part of this hike. After several sets of stairs the trail becomes a bit more natural with a maze of tree roots to navigate and several ups and downs through the forest.

Stay on the trail until you reach a fork. Go right and you’ll have reached Quarry Rock. Climb up and enjoy the view! It’s cool to be able to look down on Deep Cove and see just how high you’ve climbed.

Before heading back, walk a few minutes further along the Baden Powell Trail towards the power pylon. Once you reach it, climb the rock and you’ll get another awesome view further down Indian Arm.

I found the challenge of this hike to be catching my breath going up – take lots of short stops if you need to, and also the pounding on my knees going back down – a stick would help. Having said that, there were young and old hiking at many different speeds and there were also a few runners so this trail is pretty good for anybody. It’s very dog-friendly as well.

Deep Cove is extremely popular and even on a weekday after the school holidays we found it difficult to get parking so I’d recommend going early in the day or taking transit. The trail was super busy as well, so it’s not a hike to do if you are looking for some quiet time. I’m not a fan of crowds or busy trails but the views at the top made it totally worthwhile.

 

 

 

Capilano Canyon from Cleveland Dam

Capilano Canyon from Cleveland Dam

This 2.6km hike in the Capilano Canyon is great if you want a nice walk, nothing too tricky and/or something that is dog-friendly. The trail begins at the Capilano dam and is a circuit so can be done either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Bear in mind, both ways you’ll head downhill first which will mean some uphill on the way back. The elevation gain is only 100m and the trail is good so it’s not too challenging. There are also a few cross trails if you want something even shorter.

The Cleveland Dam, at the head of the Capilano River in North Vancouver, supplies much of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s drinking water. When the dam’s gates are open it’s super exciting to stand on the bridge above and see and hear the torrent of water rushing down the spillway into the river.

To do the hike anti-clockwise, cross the bridge and look for the Upper Shinglebolt Trail. Follow it until you reach a fork in the trail and then turn left. From that point, follow the trail a short way to the Pipe bridge and head across. This part of the trail follows the river so you’ll be treated to some great views no matter what the weather.

On the East side of the river, look for the Coho Loop Trail to the left. Follow it until you reach the salmon hatchery interpretive centre. There are some really cool displays at the center where you can see and learn about the life cycle of salmon. Check out the fish ladders where, depending on the season, you may even see salmon jumping as they head upstream to spawn.

After you leave the hatchery, look for the Palisades Trail to the left. Follow it back up until you hit the service road and then continue up the road until you find yourself back at the dam.

The round trip takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on your speed and how long you spend at the hatchery. I could watch fish jump for hours so I would allow extra time for that. There is a parking lot by the reservoir and the park can also be reached by transit. I highly recommended the Cleveland Dam-hatchery loop as a good starter hike or a regular walk. It’s locally popular so can be quite busy but the people you meet are friendly.

Check out a trail map here.

 

The Fair at the PNE and Wham Bam

The Fair at the PNE and Wham Bam

It’s that time of year again – The Fair at the PNE is on! This summer The Fair runs from August 20 to September 5. As always, there’s a ton of things to see and do. On opening day we headed up the road (the PNE is literally a 15-minute walk from our apartment) to check things out.

One of the things I really enjoy at The Fair is the Marketplace. There’s always some really cool stuff to look at and if I had oodles of money I would come out fully loaded with new stuff. This year we were impressed by a few things but were very restrained and only purchased one item – the the Miracle Grill Mat. This little mat looks to be an awesome addition to our barbecue kit. It’s designed to help grill those little things which often fall through the grate or items which would usually be grilled on a hot plate. For non-meat-eaters like us, this is going to greatly increase the amount we can use our barbecue. The barbecue booth was extremely hard to walk by because the grilling vegetables smelled so good!

Grill guys

Another item of interest was this air sofa. You’ve probably seen them advertised before but it was great to be able to test it out. Susannah gave it a big thumbs up so we’ll probably look at getting a couple of these for car camping someday.

air sofa

This booth sold 3-D jigsaw puzzles or models and some of them looked quite intricate. The tower in the front looks very “Game of Thrones”.

3D Puzzles

And then, of course, there was the store with a box full of Pokémon.

Pokémon

As always with The Fair at the PNE, there was food and lots of it. It’s always interesting to see what crazy food combos will make an appearance. Some of it looked interesting, others were just plain weird. I opted for poutine from Unroutine Poutine – I just can’t get past poutine – it’s soooo good!

For the carnivores there were 4 or 5 barbecue vendors side by side, competing for the best barbecue.

Lots of meat at PNE

There is just so much to see and do. It was so hot that day we chose to arrive in the later afternoon, but you really could spend the whole day there. There’s shows, demonstrations, animals,are and dinosaurs! The dinosaurs are actually pretty cool because they animate randomly which can be fun for kids and adults alike.

Dinosaurs

The Fair has free nightly concerts which are included with gate admission, but on Saturday we were in for something even better. Kiss Radio sponsored Wham Bam, which was an all-afternoon pop event. The show was headlined by Hedley, who were awesome. We had a great time!

Jacob Hoggard on piano as part of Hedley

Hedley on guitar

After the concert, we left happy (and full!) and headed back down the street towards home. We were probably at the PNE for about 4 hours but I know that there was a lot we didn’t see so I might have to go again!

What do you enjoy about the PNE? Let us know in the comments.

Vancouver Queer Film Festival

Vancouver Queer Film Festival

2016 marks the 28th Anniversary of Out On Screen’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Between August 11 and 21, the festival is screening 35+ queer films at several venues around Vancouver. I love the VQFF because it is a chance for the LGBTQ2 community (and friends) to come together and see films that are not mainstream and that tell different stories – our stories.

This year Susannah and I chose 3 films to see; Women Who Kill, Aligarh, and Fire Song. We selected these films because their synopses sounded interesting but also because their settings and genres were so different from each other. We chose a woman’s story, a foreign story, and a First Nations’ story.

Women Who Kill

First up was the thriller, Women Who Kill. Morgan (played by writer and director Ingrid Jungermann), is a podcaster whose life is closely entwined with her ex-partner and podcast co-host, Jean. When Morgan meets the mysterious Simone, she embarks on an exciting and fearful journey that is potentially lethal.

Women Who Kill is primarily a thriller.  The plot is story driven and it’s a story that anyone can relate to. Although this movie is about women and features almost all lesbian characters, the characters could have been male or female, gay or straight. It doesn’t matter, the story and theme would still hold. In my opinion, one of the purposes of Queer film is to normalize not marginalize people and I really feel this movie did that.  It was great to watch a cast of women in a film and to feel that that was perfectly normal.

Aligarh

Aligarh is an Indian biographical drama film directed by Hansal Mehta and written by Apurva Asrani. Set just after Delhi High Court’s discharge of Section 377 (the anti-sodomy law), it revolves around the story of Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras who, without his permission, is filmed at his home in bed with a male rickshaw driver. Consequently, he is suspended from his position at Aligarh Muslim University on charges of immorality (homosexuality).

His story is investigated by ambitious young journalist Deepu (played by Rajkummar Rao), who explores media ethics and the legality behind Siras’s suspension.

Aligarh is a very important tale that explores the intersections between culture, social change, religion, and sexuality. Manoj Bajpayee is great, bringing soft nuances of expression well befitting his character Siras, who is also a poet.

This film is a story of professional and personal persecution that is not unusual in countries where LGBTQ2 people are marginalized or persecuted. It was extremely moving and made me very aware of how lucky I am to live in Canada.

Fire Song

Our final movie from VQFF, Fire Song, tells the story of Shane, a two-spirited high school senior who is struggling to maintain the balance of self, family and culture. Set on a northern Ontario Anishinaabe reserve, the film tackles the reservation’s problems of alcohol, drugs, suicide and loss, and the challenges faced by two-spirited people. Fire Song is the first feature from writer/director Adam Garnet Jones who is of Cree and Métis heritage.

The concept of “two-spirit” is something that is new to me and has recently been incorporated into the LGBTQ2 acronym with the addition of the “2” at the end. I absolutely love to see acknowledgment of our First Nation’s brothers and sisters in our community.

The film was engaging and moving but at the same time full of hope. Fire Song is a story that needs to be told and was my favourite of the three movies we saw.

The Film Festival aims to show queer films with a different perspective; to make social change through storytelling. Unlike mainstream movies, the VQFF offers a broad spectrum of film-makers – movies made by women, First Nations, transgender, people of colour – movies that embrace and share both our struggles and triumphs. Life is not perfect in these movies, many are about challenge or struggle, but all serve to make our voices louder.

I can’t wait to see what next year’s films will be.

 

 

Perseid Meteors and Olympus Live Composite

Perseid Meteors and Olympus Live Composite

The Perseid Meteor Shower happens every year from mid-July as the Earth passes through the debris trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. This year the meteor shower was visible between August 7-12 with peak viewing on the night of August 11. We decided to head up Burnaby Mountain to check it out. So did half of Vancouver and it was really crowded when we arrived at about 12:30am. Luckily many people were already packing up to leave and within 45 mins it had emptied out considerably.

It was bit cloudy for perfect meteor viewing so instead of trying to capture meteors I decided to try out the live composite function on my Olympus O-MD E-M5II and capture star trails. Live Composite is very very cool. Essentially in this mode the camera takes a series of photos and stacks them in camera to create one image. With each successive shot, only new light is added to the original image which prevents overexposure in the brightest part of the picture. You can see the image developing on the LCD screen as it happens which means you can stop the process when the image reaches a point that you are happy with it.

The image below took about 15 minutes to make and is a stack of about 80 or so images.

Stacked images to create star trails
Stacked images to create star trails – Olympus O-MD E-M5II

The orange glow on the left and right are clouds. The totems were lit by the headlights of cars as they circled around to leave the mountain. Ordinarily, any kind of random uncontrolled light is not desirable in this kind of image but in this case, I was happy with the side light painting the totems as it gave them colour and texture and gave the image depth. This was my second attempt at this shot. My first effort is below and is an example of what can go wrong.

Shot ruined by flashlight
Shot ruined by flashlight

Remember I said each shot added new light to the image? When the man in red stood in my shot and waved his flashlight around his light was added to the photo. It was dark and he was just trying to find his way back to his car, but it was a little frustrating as the shot was already over 10 minutes into creation. A really cool feature of the Olympus Live Composite mode is that I could see this as soon as it happened, abandon the shot and start over. For my second try, I recomposed a little higher to avoid people wandering through and kept my fingers on the cable release just in case. The result was a shot I am pretty happy with.

The following night we went to Porteau Cove to try again. While we did see a few meteors I decided to have another go with Live Composite. This time, I did not compose with a foreground element in the image, opting instead for the horizon line. Porteau Cove is extremely dark and has really good star visibility which resulted in a much denser set of trails. This shot is about 150 images stacked together and took about 25 minutes to create. Look closely and you can see a couple of meteors as they streak in a different direction to the star trails.

Star Trails over the horizon at Porteau Cove
Star Trails over the horizon at Porteau Cove

Due to the extreme darkness, it was impossible to use autofocus so I manually set the focus to infinity. I shot all of these images on the Olympus O-MD E-M5II with the Olympus 17mm 1.8 lens. This lens has focus markers which make it easier to set to a certain focus distance.  If you have a lens without distance markers or without a hard stop at infinity you could find infinity focus during the daytime and add a piece of tape or use a permanent marker to mark the exact spot on the barrel of your lens.

Stacking photos for star trails can be done manually in Photoshop or by using software such as StarStax, but what I absolutely love about the Olympus Live Composite mode is, well, it’s live. It saves time, does a great job and also creates an ORF, an Olympus raw file, which means you can edit for colour, contrast etc afterwards. This feature is nothing short of awesome and is just one of many reasons I love my micro four thirds camera.

To use Live Composite mode for star trails you will need a stable tripod. I’d also recommend a cable release so you don’t nudge the camera when starting or stopping the shot. You’ll need a wide angle lens with a wide aperture of at least 2.8. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm 1.8 is awesome but I would also like to try out the 12mm f2 or a fisheye. I set my exposure for each shot to 10 seconds which kept the stars sharp, but this will vary depending on how dark it is and what you are trying to achieve. Try a few single exposures first to get your settings. Then, get creative and watch your image as it appears!