Saturn, Mars and the Milky Way appeared in the twilight over the Bow River.
I shot this scene on August 24 from the viewpoint at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, overlooking the Bow River. Mars appears between Saturn above and Antares below, in a line of objects west of the Milky Way.
The valley below is the traditional meeting place of the Blackfoot Nation, and the site of the signing of Treaty Seven between Chief Crowfoot and Colonel MacLeod of the North West Mounted Police in 1877.
The image is a panorama of two images, each 20-second exposures at f/2 and ISO 1600 with the 24mm lens. I shot them just prior to shooting time-lapses of the moving sky, using two cameras to create a comparison pair of videos, to illustrate the choices in setting the cadence when shooting time-lapses.
The movies, embedded here, will be in the next edition of my Nightscapes and Time-Lapse ebook, with the current version linked to below. The text explains what the videos are showing.
Choose Your Style
When shooting frames destined for a time-lapse movie we have a choice:
- Shoot fewer but longer exposures at slower ISOs and/or smaller apertures.
- Shoot lots of short exposures at high ISOs and/or wide apertures.
The former yields greater depth of field; the latter produces more noise. But with time-lapses, the variations also affect the mood of a movie in playback.
This comparison shows a pair of movies, both rendered at 30 frames per second:
Clip #1 was taken over 2 hours using 20-second exposures, all at ISO 2000 and f/2 with 1-second intervals. The result was 300 frames.
Clip #2 was taken over 1 hour using 5-second exposures also at f/2 and 1-second intervals, but at ISO 8000. The result was 600 frames: twice as many frames in half the time.
Clip #1 shows fast sky motion. Clip #2 shows slow motion.
Clip #2 exhibits enough noise that I couldn’t bring out the dark foreground as well as in Clip #1. Clip 2 exhibits a slower, more graceful motion. And it better “time-resolves” fast-moving content such as cars and aircraft.
Which is better? It depends …
Long = Fast
The movie taken at a longer, slower cadence (using longer exposures) and requiring 2 hours to capture 300 frames resulted in fast, dramatic sky motion when played back. Two hours of sky motion are being compressed into 10 seconds of playback at 30 frames per second. You might like that if you want a dramatic, high-energy feel.
Short = Slow
By comparison, the movie that packed 600 frames into just an hour of shooting (by using short exposures taken at fast apertures or fast ISOs) produced a movie where the sky moves very slowly during its 10 seconds of playback, also at 30 frames per second. You might like that if you want a slow, peaceful mood to your movies.
So, if you want your movie to have a slow, quiet feel, shoot lots of short exposures. But, if you want your movie to have a fast, high-energy feel, shoot long exposures.
As an aside – all purchasers of the current edition of my ebook will get the updated version free of charge via the iBooks Store once it is published later this year.
— Alan, August 26, 2016 / © 2016 Alan Dyer / AmazingSky.com
7 Replies to “The Cadence of the Moving Sky”
Alan thanks for the comparison – really looking forward to the release of your videos on how to do Nightscapes.
We’re working on them! Thanks!
As always Alan, you do great stuff! What about the options of playing the fast one back at say 15 fps, i.e. making the sky motion equal? Or using only every other frame? The true elapsed time is not required to be equal. I like what you said about the resulting energy.
Hi! If you play the fast one back at 15fps it’ll look jerky. Even more so if you skip frames. That’s doable only if you have lots of short frames, as in a twilight or daytime scene. Rendering at 60fps if you have lots of frames and want to speed things up is an option. But if you want smooth, slow motion you still need lots of frames. Or if you have only a small number of frames you can do a slow dissolve from one to the other, more like a slide show than a movie. That works for auroras and sunsets, but not for stars.
Very amazing photography
Thanks for this, Alan. If a picture tells a thousand words, a timelapse movie tells a million. Your few, well-chosen words in the caption were the icing on the cake.