Time Out for Some Time Lapse

February 6th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

OK, boys and girls, time to take a break from bickering over warming trends and the greenhouse effect. :)

Let’s take in some of Nature’s beauty. My new hobby is time lapse photography, and here are 4 very short video segments I’ve put together for your enjoyment (sorry, no music to go with them).

For those not familiar with the technique, you can plug a controller into a digital SLR camera on a tripod and take many photos in succession at whatever time interval and exposure settings you want, do some (optional) “high dynamic range” (HDR) enhancement in post-processing, and then render the resulting photos as a video file, which I do in Photoshop.

I’m currently partial to the night sky as a subject, since a good DSLR camera with a fast lens can see more stars and satellites passing over than the unaided eye.

The first video I took last night from a very dark location near Hytop, Alabama (be sure to (1) click on the HD icon to toggle on the high def version, and (2) Full Screen icon next to the “HD” marker after you start the video):

The second video I did a few days ago at Little River Falls, near Ft. Payne, Alabama:

The third video is from my backyard at night, of stars, the moon, Jupiter, and clouds moving past the 1,000 ft tall TV tower we live next to:

The final video was made during our wedding anniversary visit to the Grand Canyon in late November, 2012, and shows moonrise over the Canyon:

The cameras and lenses used for each, as well as the settings, are provided on my Vimeo.com page.


29 Responses to “Time Out for Some Time Lapse”

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  1. Jim T says:

    Very nice videos. I may have to try that myself. We live far enough out in the country that light pollution should be minimal. Thanks for the nudge. :-)

  2. Doug Cotton says:

    Not bad Roy – needs a bit of saturation, but interesting.

    I enjoy photography too, but am nowhere near as good as my wife who’s pro work is recognised highly on pro photography websites.

    Anyway enjoy mine of Tasmania: http://www.tasmania-holiday.com/

    and my page with some basic landscape photography tips
    http://www.tasmania-holiday.com/photography.html

  3. Doug Cotton says:

    Thanks Roy. (Wish you liked the gravity gradient as much!) There you go …
    http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/7458/alabamafalls.jpg

  4. Norman says:

    Have you seen the film Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio?

    The cimenaphotographer Ron Fricke has time elapse scences of a city but the interesting thing is he somehow is panning the time elapse.

    If one likes time elapse film, this is the one for you and it does come with Philip Glass musical compositions.

  5. J says:

    Have to admit this is my favorite post you’ve done. And your temperature record.

  6. Gary says:

    Nice clips. I’d like to try this with my Canon T3. Please give more details about the controller unit.

  7. Jerome Hudson says:

    Enjoyed all the videos.

    Couldn’t help but notice the 22 degree halo around
    the Moon on your lunar time lapse. There was a great
    photo of Moon dogs with part of the halo on the
    Astronomy Picture of the Day,
    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130126.html
    which might interest you and your readers. That,
    done in time lapse, might be very impressive. Moon
    dogs aren’t that infrequent, but require clouds with
    I think more or less horizontal ice crystal plates.

    - Jerry Hudson

  8. Doug Cotton says:

    My wife also had a hair caught under the mirror of her old camera (Canon 5D MkII). Never use a brush to clean around the inside when changing lenses. Use a blower or tweezers to remove hair. Always change lenses quickly with the camera facing down a bit to help prevent dust settling. Likewise, replace rear lens caps quickly without pointing the lens upwards. Avoid salt air too – so fit that tele before you go down to shoot the surfboard riders.

  9. Doug Cotton says:

    Sorry! If that last comment seems irrelevant, it’s because my bleary eyes (just out of bed) read “halo” as “hair” in Jerome’s comment. I suppose I really should get a pair of glasses at age 67, but don’t seem to need them – much! Perhaps someone will find the comment useful.
    .

  10. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dr. Spencer.

    Very nice movies indeed, I’m not a great photographer so my comments are just about the subjects, I know very little about technology behind that movies.
    Anyways, I would like to visit the Grand Canyon one day, it should be a great journey, but…

    “1,000 ft tall TV tower”

    Gasp!

    Is that tower 300m tall???

    I would like to see its behavior in heavy windy days.
    We have a similar tower at an abandoned nuclear plant few km from here, it’s scaring to see the tower oscillation in windy days.

    @Doug.

    Wow, I didn’t know that the Tasmanian landscapes were so nice.
    By the way, I seen an horse, some cows… Did you ever see any Tasmanian devils there?
    I tried to see one at the San Diego zoo but that damned was eating something hidden in its cave!
    I just heard strange and terrific screams coming from that hole.

    • I actually enjoy living next to the tower, and yes it is that tall…it roars like a jet in a high wind, with its thick cables swaying, and gets hit by lightning rapid-fire in a thunderstorm. Red tail hawks nest on it and are usually circling overhead. You can walk right up to the base of it in the woods, and it almost gives you vertigo to look up the length of it.

      • Truthseeker says:

        Technical point. If a transmission structure is supported by cables it is a “mast”, not a tower. For it to be a tower it has to be a free-standing tower (typically shaped like the Eiffel Tower).

        This message was brought to you by pedantry from the broadcast industry.

  11. Doug Cotton says:

    Thanks Massimo. Yes, I’ve driven around Tasmania four times in my life, and recommend a visit. You can see Tasmanian devils, but only in captivity. We didn’t go in on this last trip, but I have before.

    http://www.devilsonverandah.com.au/seedevils.htm

  12. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Hi Roy,
    “You can walk right up to the base of it in the woods, and it almost gives you vertigo to look up the length of it”

    I know what you mean.
    Being an HAM radio and having mounted a little 7 meters (little compared to that antenna) delta loop on my roof, I can just imagine the ones who mounted it!

    So you are one of the lucky one who live near the woods. Despite I live in a small village nearby Milan, it’s a long time that the landscape I can see trough the windows has changed from the green of the country to the gray of the neighboring houses.

  13. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Doug,
    unluckily the Tasmanian land is a little too far from here.
    Anyways, I have some old friends in Brisbane, and maybe one day I could have a trip to visit them, so we could plan a visit to the “little devils” too :)
    I seen the link and I admit that despite their scary screams I find them sympathetic.

  14. Doug Cotton says:

    If you get as far as Brisbane, you may as well see Sydney and perhaps we could meet up. I took my family on a crazy 20 day 8,000Km drive through 10 countries in UK and Europe a couple of years ago. See my pics here – not all that great as we were on the move – http://www.ukeuropeviews.com/

  15. John Owens says:

    Beautiful pictures. I always enjoyed going to Desota park and Little River Canyon. You can get some great pictures from the canyon floor.

  16. KevinK says:

    Dr. Spencer, very nice work. Thanks.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  17. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Hi Doug,
    I don’t know when and if I will be there one day.
    In this moment I’ve big problems caregiving my mother which impede me to leave Italy, but in case I will do the trip I’ll be glad to meet you.
    Anyways many compliments to you or your wife for the nice photos, comparing them to the few I shot, mine are ridiculous… It’s just not my job :)

  18. Richard LH says:

    Loverly videos.

    I have always thought it would be useful to mount the timelapse camera on an equatorial mount and move it to counter the Erath’s rotation. This would fix the positions of the stars and thence demonstrate a view of the Earth traveling through the heavens rather than just showing a surface bound view.

    If you fix the Milky Way as the ‘horizontal’ and the Pole Star as ‘up’ (or ‘down’ for those in the Southern Hemishpere :-) then the Earth surface will roll in or out of the frame in a manner that correctly represents ‘our’ current travel through the Universe.

  19. Kuze says:

    Sublime! Love the halo in the third video.

  20. Dr. Dave Rusch says:

    OK – so you filmed this stuff when you were on your ‘honeymoon’? Is that all?

  21. Skeptic Dave says:

    Color me skeptical of this and especially the waste heat theory. The sum total of all waste heat generated by human activities is infinitesimal compared to the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun. That’s almost as nutty as the carbon model of global warming.

  22. Doug Cotton says:

    Perth

    Jun 8.4 19.3 134.7 15.4
    Jul 7.7 18.3 153.1 17.6
    Aug 8.0 18.8 134.9 16.5

    The last figure on the right is the mean number of rain days,

    Melbourne

  23. Doug Cotton says:

    Oops – sorry – wrong comment in my clipboard – it should have been this one …

    Massimo Many thanks for your kind words – we enjoyed Italy, but made the mistake of driving too far into the centre of Rome the first day – what a joke those traffic lights are at intersections – who needs them in Rome? If anyone else ever drives there, I suggest parking free at the end of the dual carriageway and getting a bus. And if you rely on a GPS, make sure you know what that leaning thing is called in Italian!

  24. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Hi Doug,
    even if it’s a long time that I went to Rome, I know what you mean.
    Maybe you have been bad impressed by the bunch of signals displaced here and there on the roads too.
    As an example of how chaotic is our road signs displacement, you must know that many Italian city mayors decided to close the inner city streets to the unauthorized traffic and often the signals which should warn the drivers to avoid those streets are bad placed and write in Italian only.
    But even if you are Italian and you know the language, the problem is that those silly signals are write in small characters not taller than 2cm, and have a bunch of words write on them. So if the driver want to read them has to stop the car, creating a traffic jam.

    You may find the following unbelievable, but some years ago in a small city near my hometown, there was a cross-way where if you went there with an old Euro0 or Euro1 grade unauthorized car, you had to stop the car and left it there forever. That’s because two of the streets were access denied one way only, the other was allowed to Euro2 or higher grade cars and the one where you were coming from was a one way too!
    At the beginning of the street where you were coming from there was no warning signs of course :)
    They fixed the issue few weeks later when the situation was exposed on a local newspaper.

    It’s just one of the many crazy things we should be ashamed.

    Having drove a car in the US, I found very logical and easy to follow signs and limits there, at least when compared to ours.
    I have just one critic to them: they should better explain to the foreign drivers the meaning of “ped xing”…
    I discovered the meaning, when visiting Disneyland, I seen a fake sign which warned “toon xing” because it had pictured on it the characters of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy crossing the street!!!
    I have just one critic to them: they should better explain to the foreign drivers the meaning of “ped xing”…
    I discovered the meaning, when visiting Disneyland, I seen a fake sign which warned “toon xing” because it had pictured on it the characters of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy crossing the street!!!
    Until that day, every time I read that on the road, I was worried about which law I could infringe…
    Why don’t they use the universal recognized zebra crossing signs? :)

  25. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Truthseeker
    “Technical point. If a transmission structure is supported by cables it is a “mast”, not a tower. For it to be a tower it has to be a free-standing tower (typically shaped like the Eiffel Tower).
    This message was brought to you by pedantry from the broadcast industry.”

    You are right, but we were not technically writing our consideration about the broadcasting TV antenna stand.
    Being an HAM radio and having self-engineered and made my three bands delta loop, I well know the difference between a mast and a tower.
    And I’m sure that Dr. Spencer knows too.

    Anyways, the right words should be used, so thanks for correct us.

    Massimo