Experimenting with Timelapses

We all have seen those great timelapses of night ski and other beautiful stuff.

Timelapse - Moonrise (Photo: Cris Da Rocha)

Timelapse – Moonrise (Photo: Cris Da Rocha)

Recently Kelby One released a class with Tom Bol that really puts the thing in very simple terms (how to shoot, which software to use to process and make the final movie).

Since then I have been looking for opportunities to try some timelapse. Did some testing with drawings (the classic Mary Poppins sketch flying with an umbrella …) and this last weekend I saw a great moonrise just in front of my balcony and it came “that’s it! the first try!”. Next day I was ready for it.

Adventure starts :-) Check the moonrise time (as an astronomer I know those things change daily hehehehehe), internet is full of sites that tell you that.

Checked the typical interval for a moonrise timelapse. Each subject has its timing. Apparently sun and moonrise would be something like a shot every 3 seconds.

Got everything nice and ready, estimated the shutter speed, manual mode and so on. Since I don’t have an intervalometer (not buying one just for the idea) and my camera doesn’t have it inside, I used my IR remote control. Should work. Just decided to go on a 5 seconds interval, since I would have to trigger each single frame.

Moon didn’t appeared when it was supposed to. 50 minutes later, sky was darker and the moon started to make it brighter. In those 50 minutes I went updating my shutter speed, ISO and so, to make exposure X noise reasonable.

Since I was not sure the moon was actually coming I started with a 10 seconds interval, when it started to show I moved to a 5 seconds interval, but got tired after a while of pressing the remote so I moved back to 10 seconds, which seemed reasonable in the back of the camera. The moon was not moving thaaaat fast in the sky.

I chose a very wide angle, to get the sky and some of the roofs. After 30 minutes I was tired of pressing the remote (I had 217 shots) and the moon was only slightly above the roofs. Then I got into my scientific self to realize it would take A WHILE for the moon to reach the edge of my frame :-) So I called it a day with the thought “I can crop it in”.

Back in, imported in Lightroom and I took Tom Bol’s advice and decided to test LR Timelapse, amazing “plugin” for LR (quoted because is sort of a stand-by tool that uses Lightroom for control and making the output images).

LR Timelapse, for the simple use could not be simpler and more instructive. I would not say it’s intuitive (since you have to go back and forth to Lightroom) but it’s instructive, it tells what to do next! No doubts about it.

At the end you’re left with a video file!!

The “tricky” point was to make the different time intervals work together. My approach was to break the sequence in 3 parts (the beginning at 10 second/frame interval, the middle at 5 second/frame and the end again at 10 second/frame). The middle part was rendered at normal speed and the beginning and end at 1/2 speed, so the real time rate was the same.

After having the three videos I merged them at Photoshop and I had nice in 1080p :-)

But the movement of the moon in the frame is quite small, on the other hand the movement of clouds, stars and planes in the sky and also the lights in the neighbors’ windows and the light decay are really nice (it’s in my balcony every night, but I never really cared to notice it :-) ).

The next option was to crop the frames in get a significant movement of the moon in the frame. With an 18Mpix camera I could really crop it and still get enough pixels for a 720p video!

The moon movement is nice and more impressive, but you loose the other features in the sky. It’s a compromise. Probably the next approach would be to get wide angle still, but with a larger time rate (10 or even 15 seconds/frame) and do it for a couple of hours. For that, an intervalometer becomes a must be, so now I’m looking into it :-)

Well! Let me know your impressions and experiences in the topic!!!

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DEDPXL 03

Just a short note on DEDPXL, amazingly busy couple of weeks (but I really liked Zack’s project!).

DEDPXL assignment #02 - Shapes 04

DEDPXL assignment #02 – Shapes 04

The critique for assignment 02 is out, quite long, but worth watching the long version (in 3 parts). Unfortunately none of my shots made it. Let’s see next time (gotta find time and inspiration to shoot).

The next assignment (03) is out and is about Shadows! Already saw some stuff on Google+ about it. Some are very nice, some … could be way better. The shot above from the previous assignment could be an option for shadows also, but I have to redo it, or do something better.

Have fun!

Link for DEDPLX03.

Link for the short version of the critique (that has the links to the long version – wanted to refer back to the DEDPXL website, instead of embedding youtube videos).

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Sensor size X Depth of field

More often than not you see the discussion on how the sensor size affects the depth of field and I really can’t see that, since the light doesn’t know where it’s gonna land (if a full frame, an APS-C, a micro four-thirds …). So I think there’s a big misconception on the topic.

Depth of Field, a nice tool (photo: Cris da Rocha)

Depth of Field, a nice tool (photo: Cris da Rocha)

Having said that, I tried to understand where does that come from. I packed that with the concept of “zoom” for smaller sensors and equivalent focal length (and now the recent argument of equivalent aperture).

Being a bit hard on that, but … the difference between full frame and APS-C (for example) is the sensor size. The image is not magnified (in the optical sense), your image is cropped!!!

What you see in your APS-C sensor (Nikon flavor) with a 50mm at f/4 is the same you’d see in a full frame sensor with a 75mm at f/6 (that’s the “equivalent” number you’re using, keep the reduction of aperture in mind also). OK! But that doesn’t mean you are using a 75mm at f/6 you’re using a 50mm at f/4.

Comparison between the field of view of a full frame sensor and an APS-C sensor. (Photo: Cris da Rocha)

Comparison between the field of view of a full frame sensor and an APS-C sensor. (photo: Cris da Rocha)

Most of the available comparisons I see around rely on recompose the shot, or zoom in, so the content in the image is the same, but the camera specs change (for example one is at 50mm, other is at 75mm, and so on). Once you move the camera, or zoom in, all the relative distances or internal specs are different and the comparison is no longer fair!

After some discussion with several friends I partnered with one of them, Vincenzo Forchi, that happens to have a Nikon FX (full frame) camera and a Nikon DX (APS-C) camera, so we could make the test using the very same lens.

The shots were taken at the SAME DISTANCE from the subject, so no recomposing.

We took the same shot with different configurations:

1- Full frame camera at 50mm f/4
2- DX mode (which reduces the used area to a APS-C size) with the full frame camera at 50mm f/4
3- Full frame camera at 75mm f/7.1 (to emulate the “equivalent” of a DX camera)
4- APS-C camera at 50mm f/4

For technical reasons we lost the shot for 75mm f/4.

Can’t see the difference between the shots.

They all use an aperture that has the physical size of about 12.5mm and that’s what light cares about.

FF sensor in FX mode @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

FF sensor in FX mode @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

FF sensor in DX mode (cuts down to APS-C size in camera) @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

FF sensor in DX mode (cuts down to APS-C size in camera) @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

FF sensor in FX mode @75mm f/7.1 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

FF sensor in FX mode @75mm f/7.1 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

APS-C sensor @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

APS-C sensor @50mm f/4 (photo: Vincenzo Forchi)

Any thoughts about it?? Please share!

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The HDR book

I like HDR. Like the look. Not the Elvis-On-Velvet/Harry Potterish look, but a nice tone-mapped image, that brings texture, color and dynamic range.

The HDR Book, 2nd edition, from RC Concepcion.

The HDR Book, 2nd edition, from RC Concepcion.

There are some masters of the topic, which Rick Sammon and Trey Ratcliff are the highlights and recently RC Concepcion has joined that team.

RC has release “The HDR Book” some years ago and recently the 2nd edition of it. The inspiration of the post is that I just received mine! Still haven’t got the time to read it, but soon (I’ll “review” it when I’m done).

The book has this air of “the book to solve half your problems, so give me TWO of them” :-) It’s being acclaimed and is already a best seller in Amazon.

Another little piece of information about HDR is Trey Ratcliff’s new video. About 10 hours of tutorial video sold in his website, but the 40 minutes Sneak Peek has already a huge amount of information.

Get your prejudice to the side, open your mind and take a look at what HDR can do for your images. Forgive the abusers from the past, for they did not know what they were doing :-)

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Shoot-Out challenge at Gulf Photo Plus

The other day I bumped into one of those videos and found it amazing. Of course had to dig in the others!

Gregory Heisler Self-portrait - Shoot-Out GPP 2013 (photo: Gregory Heisler/GPP, I hope they don't mind me using this shot to illustrate my post, but this shot is fantastic!)

Gregory Heisler Self-portrait – Shoot-Out GPP 2013 (photo: Gregory Heisler/GPP, I hope they don’t mind me using this shot to illustrate my post, but this shot is fantastic!)

Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) is an annual photographic conference in Dubai. A pair of instructors level Gregory Heisler or Joe McNally and a small list of participants. Since 2010, one of the activities is the Shoot-Out, where 2 or 3 instructors receive one assignment and have 20 minutes from this moment on to deliver a final image (conceive, light, shoot and retouch).

Amazing to see renowned photographers working under pressure. Hope you enjoy it.

Shoot-Out 2010 (David Hobby, Zack Arias and Joey L):

The gulf photo plus 2010 shoot-out from gulf photo plus on Vimeo.

Shoot-Out 2011 (Zack Arias and Joey L):

GPP 2011 Shoot-out from gulf photo plus on Vimeo.

Shoot-Out 2012 (David Hobby, Martin Prihoda and Gregory Heisler):

Shoot-Out, GPP 2012 from gulf photo plus on Vimeo.

Shoot-Out 2013 (John Keatley, Lindsay Adler and Zack Arias):

GPP2013 Shoot-Out from gulf photo plus on Vimeo.

Shoot-Out 2014 (Zack Arias and Sara Lando):

GPP2014 ShootOut | Sara Lando vs Zack Arias from gulf photo plus on Vimeo.

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