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Thread: The Great Night Sky Time-Lapse Experiment

  1. #1
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    Default The Great Night Sky Time-Lapse Experiment

    I've always been interested in time-lapse photography. The trouble is, I've never actually had a decent device to record time-lapses with. I've used things like webcams, but they suck in quality. I've tried my HD camcorder, but speeding up the footage taken with that takes an aaaaaaage to render... it also has a 2hour limit.

    So... what I've done is set up my camera (it's nothing special. 6mp, 12x zoom, a bit outdated these days) on manual exposure mode, with the aperture wide open, and leaving the shutter open for 60 seconds. This makes it possible to take some night-time photographs.... (these were taken with 30 second exposure with my dad's camera, mind)



    By theguymjp, shot with FinePix S9600 at 2009-12-21


    By theguymjp, shot with FinePix S9600 at 2009-12-21


    So, what I'm going to try is to make a time lapse video of the night sky. I've known for a while that it's possible to shoot an infinite (well, as much as the card can hold) number of photos with the continuous shooting mode enabled if the button is held down. The trouble is, I'm not going to sit outside all night in sub zero temperatures holding down that button. So, I've made an ingenious device to hold it down for me... two doubled elastic bands, and a screwed up bit of toilet paper. You can just make out the red and yellow bands in this picture.

    By theguymjp, shot with DMC-TZ5 at 2009-12-21


    As I'm writing this it's taking the photos, and will continue to do so until the morning. I'm going to update this thread with the video tomorrow (if everything goes to plan).

    I have a few concerns though... one is that the lens might frost up. Another is that the camera will stop working from being so cold (I'm hoping that the heat it's creating from taking so many long-exposure photos will be enough to keep it nice and warm, though I'm sure -3 is well within operating temperature). Finally, I hope we won't get a metre of snow in the night...
    Last edited by MatthewPerks; 12-21-2009 at 08:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    It was a success! I came downstairs this morning to see it still taking photos (I guess if I had something less fragile this wouldn’t be a big deal, lol). The lens hadn't frosted up (I believe this is down to having the lens hood on), and the camera was still functioning. It hadn't snowed either.

    I'm really pleased with the result... (please select 720p, or 1080p if your computer is fast enough to play them smoothly).



    Shame about the clouds, though. Also, the foreground foliage caught light from the kitchen window, so it isn't very consistent at first.

    One really good thing about the camera I used is that there's a wait of exactly the same amount of time the camera was exposed for. So if you left the shutter open for 30 seconds, you'd have to wait another 30 seconds before it started the next picture (the reason for the wait is that it's processing the picture, adding noise reduction etc). This complies with the 180 degree rule of film. 'Double the shutter speed over the frame rate'. So the video has got perfect motion blur.

    I'm planning on getting some super cheap ND filters from HK, so that I can take some long-exposure videos of daytime areas.

  3. #3

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    You took a lot of trouble to get the shot you wanted which in my opinion deserves big acknowledgement. In this day and age when "some people" just look at getting the effect in editing. I like that you really made an effort to do it the "natural way".

  4. #4
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    Default

    That's really great. It's nice to see a Heath Robinson approach which comes off. Personally I think the clouds add to it.
    What caused the yellow coloring?
    Tim

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the comments.

    What caused the yellow coloring?
    Street lamps I suppose.

    Because there's such a long exposure time, the camera easily picks up the slight tint, and it's really the only light the clouds are receiving from below.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewPerks View Post
    Street lamps I suppose.

    Because there's such a long exposure time, the camera easily picks up the slight tint, and it's really the only light the clouds are receiving from below.
    That's what I assumed for the trees but it's quite incredible that cluds are coloured like that. I guess because our brains "assume" clouds are grey/white we don't really notice the real colours.
    Tim

  7. #7
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    Default

    Terrific experiement and I admire your courage in risking the equipment. Its good to do that from time to time and the results were very worthwhile.

  8. #8

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    nice work mathew. looks great in full screen hd.

  9. Default

    i really liked the timelapse, and i know the trouble of setting up a camera, and then going to the computer to make a timelapse itself. nice plan, it worked!

    are you interested at all in hdr timelapse? most of them are 'over-the-top', which i don't like anymore. but hdr done realistically looks fantastic, if you like it, it might work well when you experiment in the daytime.

    i look forward to seeing a montage of all your timelapse vids! take it easy!

  10. #10
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    Nicely done! Timelapse is definitely best done with a stills camera. The camera should be looked upon as a tool and not something to be kept out of harms way, then the full potential of what is possible starts to show, just as you have here, well done.
    Canon, Edius, Final Cut Studio, Always Progressive, Promotional Video Production

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