Well, seen them up north, and now I’ve seen them down south. Northern and southern lights.
Timelapse photography can be so rewarding and so frustrating. I have been using my Canon EOS 7D for nearly 12 months now, and have shot quite a few timelapses with it. Once the basics are understood, it is finding good subject matter that becomes the challenge.
While at The Watshan Catte Co. Ranch I was in awe of the amount of stars that were visible each night. Miles from anywhere the amount of light pollution was, well pretty much zero! So, I decided it was time to try and bring together as many Timelaspes of the night sky as possible and see if I could create something that would do it justice.
I had a few unsuccessful nights when condensation on the lens of my Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 left me with only a few seconds of useable final product. I trashed these small timelaspes and asked for help from Timelaspe veteran Preston Kanak. He passed on a tip that allowed me to shoot right through the night without any issues of condensation / frost on the lens. It was so simple, yet worked so well.
I tweeted: “@prestonkanak any tips for condensation on lens in overnight TL’s?”
His reply was short and to the point “@JohnJoRitz Handwarmers.”
I got funny looks at the local store buying handwarmers and candles in spring, but I think it was worth it 🙂
That night I set about stickytaping 4 handwarmers to the lens hood of the Tokina. I had already set the Canon up for its night shift and checked the handwarmers were not in frame, I hit the start button.
I repeated this process any night when the sky was clear. I wanted to use some light source to add some foreground detail and ended up using a regular candle. I had taken a large Bombay sapphire gin bottle, used and *angle grinder and a lot of safety gear to cut the top off, and placed the tapered candle inside. This was to keep it from going out, but also to make sure I did not cause a massive fire! *I do not recommend using naked flames, or cutting glass as it can cause serious injury!!!
Below is the finished piece. I recommend full screen and HD. I welcome feedback / constructive criticism.
Settings used were:
Exposure: 20-25 seconds
Format: Shot in RAW
White balance: 4000-5000 (adjusted in post to suit)
Picture Profile Setting was Landscape – (although was adjusted in post but it gave a good starting point)
F Stop: 2.8
Interval: 1-3 seconds between the 20 to 25 second exposures.
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Tokina 11-16 F/2.8
Filter: a no name brand UVF purely to protect the lens.
Tripod: Weifeng WF-717A
Intervalometer: Yongnuo TC-80N3a
Memory Card: Kingston 16GB CF
Music: from incomputech.com
I hope this has been a useful and informative post. It certainly has been educational and fun for me! If your unsure about having a go at timelaspe I’d strongly encourage you to pick some settings, take afew test shots, adjust them, test some more, then just have a go. The more you shoot the better they will become. For more information on timelaspe and general shooting, check out Preston Kanak’s website and also The Red Owl aka Tom Baurain did this tutorial on RAW Timelaspe workflow
About the author: John-Jo has been working in Canada for the last 6 months and is now in New Zealand waiting for the Snow season to start. He will be making films in Wanaka for Treble Cone and The Rookie Academy.
Timelapse photography can be quite tricky. Last night I set off an astro timelapse earlier than I have been doing. About 10:45 as opposed to 1am. I have had issues with condensation on the lens and then the sunrise. I would love to set it to Av mode (aperture priority mode) and get the sunrise as part of the TL, but I know the settings I want for the astro part…and have not worked out how to get the correct interval between shots, and then factor in using Av with faster shutter speeds….anyway it is on the todo list. However I have just started importing the images and I’m pretty excited.
I have started using candles to light up the fore ground and add some interest, so the dying candle and the start of the dawn have hopefully captured quite a bit of light change.
Here are some unedited images. I do adjust some setting in Camera RAW but the more TL’s I’m doing I seem to have to edit less, which is a good sign!
The image was about 10:37pm, 2nd image was 1:24am last was 3:17am
Creating a Timelapse of the Stars is addictive. I’m hooked. I can not put my finger on why exactly it seems to draw me in, but it does. It could be that because there are so many factors which have to come together for an Astrolapse, that the heavens truly have to align for it to be successful. Scuse the pun- but it is true!
As the moon wanes towards this weekend I am hoping to capture one a night and bring them all together in one long clip.
Last night was the second night in a row where I spent an hour or so walking round the ranch looking for the perfect spot to show not only The Milkyway but to also include some interesting foreground feature. I was hoping to use one of the large wooden gates to frame the stars.
Armed with my Canon 7D, intervalometer, tripod, stickytape, handwarmers, torch, matches, lighter, a red candle (“I love lamp) and a whole bunch of excitement I set off into the darkness. No moon means dark. The ranch I am staying on breeds horses, has bears (both black and grizzly), elk, deer and skunks wondering through all the time. So while trying not to use the torch so my night vision could kick in, I was also hoping not to bump into any unexpected wildlife. The horses make some very random, loud, un horse like noises when they are getting jiggy, or at least courting one another. So much so that several times that the loud growling sound bellowed down the valley I found myself frozen to the spot, wondering what a bear sounds like. It was soon followed by large thudding of hoofs and I regained my composure and continued my search for the perfect set up.
The final product is in post now, but here are some of the test shots I took while on my expedition.
Check back soon to see the final result.
This is the first shot in the Timelapse sequence. Was shot on 25th April 2012. There has been lots of solar activity this year, but trying to combine the solar storms with; night time, clear skies, early warnings, and not being asleep can be quite the challenge. Even when the stars do align (scuse the pun) the lights may not show up! I have been lucky enough to see them twice in the last week. This time I managed to capture some of the show in a Timelapse.
The aurora borealis has been going off recently so I decided to do an Astro timelapse with the hope of getting the lights in there as well. You can see the green glow on the horizon which is the Northern Lights.
Location: Banff, AB, Canada.
Camera: Canon EOS 7D.
Lens: 18-55mm F/ 3.5
Settings: ISO 1000. Shutter 20 sec. Shot in CRAW.
Minor correction in post (mainly just white balance).
Total time shooting was about 1hr 45 min. – I wanted to shoot longer but the cold got the better of me!
Every second of TL took about 13 mins to capture.
Creating this has inspired me to create more astro-timelapse while here in Canada as the stars here just blow me away.
Would love to be able to use a Kessler Slider with motion control to get some real camera movement. At this stage I am just really happy to have been able to witness and record such a cool event as this.
Below is a video I’ve entered into a film comp. The prize is $500 at Banff Photography. Should I be lucky enough to win I plan on buying a new lens; Tonika 11-16 mm F2.6 which would be PERFECT for astro timelapse.
Please watch the video and if you like it follow this link to vote. It is via Facebook, and the app will ask you to allow it, be assured it is a pretty non invasive app, mainly just needs your name etc to count votes and then if you want it to, it will post to your wall that you voted on it.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
About the author:
Born in Warwick, England, John-Jo move north to The Borders, and the small town of Brampton. There he lived until he was 21. He then traveled to New Zealand and began snowboarding. Spending winters in Wanaka and summers in Sydney AU for 3 years he then began doing back to back winters between Wanaka, NZ and Banff Canada.
Shooting with the Canon EOS 7D is fun! I love this camera for my video work and more and more for taking STILLS! It is funny that I bought a DLSR for video and only occasionally take photos. But when I DO take them I am always blown away.
Waiting for the Northern Lights last night I decided to take some long exposure photographs and experiment with the torch I was using. I have done this before in the first few days of having the 7D but I had time to kill so had another go. After all, experimenting helps us learn.
While I was there a few friends turned up and they wrote their names too!