This is a bulb ramping test I did of my pond last night. I wanted to be sure I had timing and exposures down well for this time of year with my Promote Control. I used 20 second intervals and manual exposure up until civil dusk at 9 PM, changing the exposure by 1 stop every 5 to 10 minutes as necessary to keep it around a proper exposure. I started at f/2.8, 1/1000, ISO 200 at around 7:30 PM and was up to f/2.8, 1.3 seconds, ISO 200 at 9 PM. At 9 PM (civil dusk) I started a bulb ramp with the Promote Control until the difference between nautical and astronomic dusk (9:50 PM and 10:58 PM respectively), setting the ramp to climb to f/2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 2500 by 10:24 PM. Around 1 AM I went out to swap out batteries and reverse the ramp starting at the difference between astronomical and nautical dawn (02:09 AM and 03:16 AM respectively, so the ramp started at 2:42 AM) to the same exposure at civil dawn (04:06 AM) that I’d used at civil dusk (f/2.8, 1.3 seconds, ISO 200). At 4:06 AM I switched to program mode and let the camera handle the rest of the exposures. The exposure it chose was exactly f/2.8, 1.3 seconds, ISO 200 so I knew my bulb ramping had worked well!
For post processing I removed the steps of my manual ramping before dusk and the flicker of auto exposure after dawn with LRTimelapse and changed my white balance via keyframes with Lightroom. This resulted in the very smooth timelapse you see here. Unfortunately I made a small gap at 1 AM when I switched batteries and reversed the bulb ramping procedure. I’m not quite proficient enough yet to do it very fast. There was also some pretty heavy cloud cover so the stars aren’t all that interesting.
Hopefully this helps others strugging with times and exposures for bulb ramping. It’s best to take some still shots the night before your timelapse if possible to figure out your exposures and use an app like SkySafari (iPhone) to figure out your dusk and dawn times for your date and location. Moon brightness and cloud cover will also affect your exposure (if you aren’t in a city and have very little light pollution).
I took this video with my iPhone to demonstrate a Panoneed and two Promote Controls shooting a spherical panoramic timelapse of me mowing my back yard. The first Promote Control triggers the Panoneed to shoot a sphere, which triggers HDR bracketing on a second Promote Control. The 2nd curtain shutter sync from the camera triggers the Panoneed after each HDR bracket is complete.
• Panoneed robotic head with touch controller and 2nd curtain sync kit
• Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod
• Really Right Stuff TA-3-LC-HK leveling base with clamp and hook
• Really Right Stuff TH-DVTL-55 dovetail plate on the bottom of the Panoneed
• Really Right Stuff MPR-192 rail bolted to the Panoneed (a B2 LR II 60mm clamp will be bolted here soon for convenience)
• Really Right Stuff B2-FAB & B2-40 clamps mounted back to back (made obsolete by the better FAS clamp today)
• Really Right Stuff BD700 camera plate
• Nikon D700 camera
• Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (rubber bands to keep the focal length from creeping)
• Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro 90MB/sec compact flash card
• 2x Promote Controls
• Maha Powerex 2700mAh batteries for Promote Controls
• 12v car battery / charger
• DROK 12v to 7.5v step down converter to power the camera
• Kid's stool to keep the grass clippings out of the battery! :-)
• 6,084 photos converted to 16-bit TIFF with Lightroom (after minor sharpening and color correction)
• Exposure fused down to 2,028 TIFFs with Photomatix Pro (3 brackets in 2EV steps)
• Stitched to 156 spheres with PTGui Pro (13 images per panorama, 2 rows of 6 photos plus 1 zenith)
• 5 seconds of video at 30fps (10 seconds at 15fps)
• Over a terabyte of temporary storage space during the rendering!
This video is a compilation of timelapses, spherical & gigapixel HDR panoramas, and iphone video that I shot over two different nights this month of Mt. Katahdin reflecting in Sunday Pond near Millinocket, Maine.
The first trip we had mostly rain all night which ruined most of the night timelapses. But what I did get for timelapse footage was great with rapidly moving clouds and fog in between the rain. You’ll even notice a small moonbow briefly over the mountain in one of the timelapse scenes. All of the gigapixel and spherical HDR panoramas were taken on this first trip. In fact, the last third of this video is a single 1.5 gigapixel spherical HDR panorama taken during sunrise at 70mm. Nearly a thousand photos were used for that one panorama and it was most difficult to stitch with the rapidly changing light. It will be on my blog later as a virtual tour and I’ll put a link here when that is done.
The second trip was very short notice and unplanned, but there was quite a bit of solar activity and it looked like a good night to capture the northern lights. We drove up late at night and weren’t disappointed! All of the long exposure still images and star trails in the video were from this second trip, as was the dawn timelapse over very still water. At the very end of that timelapse you can see the sun start hitting the trees and then the water lilies across the pond as it rises.
Special thanks to Matthew Parks and Mike Taylor for braving the millions of mosquitoes and taking photos with me! And a huge thank you to Lisa Dixon for telling us about the location! Check out their Facebook pages, and mine as well if you’d like.
12,500+ photographs, 3,000+ miles driving, 250 miles hiked, and 500 hours later, I am very happy to present to you, Light Of The Night. A short film capturing just a small sample of the beautiful New England star filled landscapes. Putting this short film together has been one of the most incredible journeys I've yet to embark on. Traveling from place to place, hiking hundreds of miles of New England's trail systems, meeting a an awesome bunch of other photographers along the way, the lovely and unpredictable New England weather, and last but not least spending so much time under the stars, are the memories that I will remember for a life time.
I couldn't thank my friends enough for being a part of this project in one way or another! Whether it was hanging out while shooting photos, hiking out to spots, taking long drives from place to place, answering technical questions, putting up with me sitting at the computer every day for a month straight, you have all helped out so much!
I wanted to test out how long a Goal Zero Sherpa 100 battery might last for some timelapse projects with a Dynamic Perception Stage One dolly and an eMotimo. I was using eMotimo’s 27:1 AUX stepper motor in “always” powered mode and the eMotimo motors in “shoot (accuracy)” mode. I probably could have put the AUX motor in “shoot (accuracy)” mode as well to conserve power, but I wanted to stress the battery and see how long it would last. I took 3,000 photos over a 36” span down a 25° slope for 2.5hrs, powering the eMotimo, 27:1 stepper motor, and a Nikon D700 (via a 12v to 7.5v step down converter) at indoor temperature (about 72°) and it consumed about 40% of the battery life on the Goal Zero Sherpa 100. That’s not a very scientific measurement; I’m not sure what my load really was in watts, and the digital meter on the front of the battery isn’t all that accurate (it is measured in 20% increments). I think it will handle an overnight timelapse just fine in a more power efficient mode on the AUX motor. I didn’t need 3,000 photos for an 8 second timelapse of course, but this was primarily a battery test.
The second goal was to try a dolly zoom without changing focus or focal length as I don’t yet have motors for that. Some quick calculations told me that 48mm focused at 4ft and f/22 aperture would give me a depth of field from 3 to 6 feet, the range I had my dolly set up for. That necessitated ISO 2500 and a 2 second shutter for a good exposure. I set my interval to 3 seconds on the eMotimo to shoot for 2.5hrs. Looking at the footage later I discovered that the silly putty flattened the most (particularly the sphere) in the first 30-45 minutes and not so much the next 2hrs, so it wasn’t as dramatic as I’d hoped. I should have burned candles or melted ice cubes, but everyone has boring videos of that already.
Since I moved the camera and kept the same focal length, the subject grew larger in every frame. In After Effects I slowly panned out to keep the subject the same relative size to attempt a “dolly zoom” or “vertigo” effect. To really get the effect you need a close subject with a distant background to feel the compression of the depth of field, the table was of course on the same plane as the subject so it’s not very obvious in this test. The silly putty didn’t stay perfectly centered throughout the move, so I tracked it and stabilized it with Mocha in After Effects. There was some slight aperture flicker that I removed via LRTimelapse before importing into After Effects.
So, all that work for a silly 8 second video. Worth it? Nope! Haha! But a good learning experience for things to try in the field later.