A Windy Day on the Wind Farm


Windfarm Cloudscape

It was windy day out on the wind farm, with some wonderful cloudscapes blowing by.

Shooting time-lapse movies by day is so much easier than shooting at night! Yesterday, to try out some new gear and grab footage for some demo videos, I drove to the nearby Wintering Hills Wind Farm, site of some previous images and movies I’ve posted. It’s a wonderful place for nightscapes, but in this case I shot cloudscapes by day.

The movie compiles five time-lapse clips into a short demo of cloudscapes and time-lapse techniques: using fixed cameras and using cameras on motorized devices that move the camera a little between each time-lapse frame – what’s called “motion control.”

It might take a moment to load and play through. But do expand it to full screen.

 

For two clips in the movie I used a Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly rail, a unit I bought two years ago and have used a lot for time-lapse shooting.

DP Stage Zero Dolly and Stage R on Induros

Here I show it on the new pair of Induro tripods, a much more stable arrangement than the single large tripod I had been using up to now. What’s also new is the Stage R panning unit, now attached to the dolly platform, here on the left (the controller is on the right).

DP Stage Zero Dolly and Stage R CU

What this motorized unit does is allow the camera to slowly turn in azimuth as it is running down the rail, to keep the camera aimed at a foreground subject, or to pan along the horizon, as I do in one of the clips in the movie.

This is a brand new piece of kit, purchased last month through Dynamic Perception’s Kickstarter campaign. I got one of the first batch of units shipped out. It works very well but takes a little practice to get the speeds set right. I’m still working on that!

I hope you enjoy the little demo movie. It shows that even cloudy skies can be photogenic at times!

– Alan, June 29, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

 

 

McDougall Church under Moonlight


McDougall Church in Moonlight #1 (May 14, 2014)

The historic pioneer church at Morley, Alberta stands under moonlight on the banks of the Bow.

Last night, after presenting a talk on time-lapse techniques to the Cochrane Camera Club, I headed west on Highway 1A to the historic McDougall Memorial United Church, long on my target list for time-lapse photography. It was Full Moon, which helped mask the lighting from nearby town lights and the urban sky glow of Cochrane and Calgary.

The wooden church stands on the benchlands north of the Bow River, near Morley, Alberta. Rev. George McDougall built it in 1875 to minister to the Cree. He lies buried on the Church grounds — that’s his grave in the foreground in the main image above, with the Full Moon shining above the headstone.

McDougall Church in Moonlight #2 (May 14, 2014)

In this image, Mars stands directly above the Church steeple. The Full Moon shines in the clouds to the south. Both still images are frames from time-lapse movies, shot with two cameras. One was on the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly, the other was a static tripod-mounted camera.

This little compilation shows the movies I shot last night, under moonlight on the banks of the Bow. It may take a moment to load. I hope you enjoy it!

— Alan, May 15, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

 

Time-Lapse Techniques — A Dolly Shot


Shooting Rusty Farm Wheels & Stars (May 20, 2013)

Time-lapse shooting has become immensely popular of late, but there’s nothing like a dolly shot to add interest to a scene .

Among the more advanced techniques for shooting time-lapse movies is to place the camera on a motorized track for a cinematic “dolly” shot.

These are easy to do in the daytime as the camera simply needs to slide down a rail at a constant rate. But at night, time-lapse dolly shots become more complex. Exposures are often 15 to 60 seconds even in bright moonlight, as here. During each exposure the camera shouldn’t move. The slide down the track should happen only in the brief time between exposures, typically 2 to 5 seconds.

Accomplishing this “shoot-move-shoot” routine requires a specialized bit of kit. In my case, I use the Stage Zero dolly and MX2 controller from Dynamic Perception.

It works great, and sends the camera down the 6-foot rail at a speed you determine. The controller also operates the camera shutter, ensuring sync between the exposures and dolly motion. You can see the setup in operation below, in a 2-part movie. The first scene shows the dolly and camera in operation over the 2-hour shoot, while the second clip shows the time-lapse sequence the dolly-mounted camera took.


This was one of the easiest time-lapse sequences I’ve shot, as I had to travel no more than 100 feet from my house to do it.

I was after a couple of sequences just to use for demo purposes, and didn’t want to tackle a long shoot far from home on a weeknight.

The bright moonlight on May 20 also meant exposures could be short, so that collecting the 300 frames I typically shoot for a time-lapse could be accomplished in well under 2 hours. Getting to bed before 1 am is a rare treat on a time-lapse night!

— Alan, May 22, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

 

Time-Lapse Test: Adding Motion Control


Here’s the movie I show being taken in my previous blog. This is my first attempt at a motion-control time-lapse.

In this movie the camera shifted position during the 3 hours of shooting by sliding along a rail, with the movement controlled by a little computer box that opened and closed the shutter (in this case for 15 seconds for each frame), then between each exposure it pulsed the motor to shift the camera a centimetre or so down the dolly’s rail. 

Pretty nifty! And until this unit, the Stage Zero Dolly, came along this capability would have cost much more money, from some Hollywood cinema supplier.

This was only a test, and I did mess up at one point (where I appear in the frame in the previous blog’s movie) as I tried to adjust the speed in mid-track, resulting in some dead motion for a few frames. So the motion comes to a halt briefly. It will take some learning to know how to set the speed right for the number of frames and exposure times I typically shoot.

But the ramping up in speed at the beginning of this movie is intentional, and is one of the motion control variables you can program in. 

The Stage Zero Dolly unit is from Dynamic Perception LLC. Lots of time-lapse shooters are employing it now, for their cinema-like pans and moves. I’ve been inspired by the work of Randy Halverson at http://dakotalapse.com/ . Amazing stuff — representing a whole new level of time-lapse techniques. 

So now I know what I’ll be doing now on moonlit evenings! 

— Alan, September 12, 2011 / Movie © 2011 Alan Dyer

Time-Lapse of a Time-Lapse


I’ve been taking lots of time-lapse movies of late. But this one is a time-lapse movie of my other camera taking a time-lapse movie.

Here you see my Canon 7D camera riding aboard my latest tool (or toy!), a motion-control dolly. The camera takes its series of still images (that will be later stitched together into a movie) while it tracks down a rail, riding on a motorized cart.

The unit is called the Stage Zero Dolly, from Dynamic Perception LLC. It is a nifty device that fires the camera shutter for the exposure time and interval you desire. In between each exposure it also moves the camera a small amount down the track. The result can be seen in the next blog, a time-lapse movie with a changing perspective, giving a cinema-style dolly shot. Except, I took this one over 3 hours.

While this scene might look like I took it during the day, it is the middle of the night (witness the moving stars). The blue sky is due to moonlight, from an almost Full Moon on September 10.

The Stage Zero Dolly takes some work to set up and program right, but the results open up a whole new dimension (literally!) in time-lapse shooting.

— Alan, September 12, 2011 / Movie © 2011 Alan Dyer