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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ ).

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 πŸ™‚

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

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About Cris Da Rocha

Astrophysicist, DB manager, cyclist, musician and, why not, "photographer to be". Back to enjoy photography after many years ... it's cool. Might share something nice and get something new.
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