The High Desert Time Lapse 2 video features summertime monsoon season clouds and night sky scenes. Most of the time lapse clips were filmed on the western slopes of the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada. This vantage point overlooks the Pahrump Valley and the city lights can be clearly seen at night from the higher elevations. A few scenes were also filmed in the south end of the Nopah Range, which straddles the California border just west of Pahrump.
Interesting scenes include rapidly building storm clouds over the 11,900 foot tall Mt Charleston and the surrounding mountain peaks. There are serene high desert views of passing clouds and a nifty double rainbow appears in the lower elevations near the Nopah Range. The night sky scenes show a moderate amount of jet and satellite traffic that resembles space travel when using a wide angle lens. There is an intriguing big red streaking flash in one of the Milky Way scenes, but that can be attributed to a brightly lit four wheeler passing by. The night sessions were also filmed during the summer Leonid Meteor Shower, which was highly productive and several thin meteor streaks can be spotted.
In the high desert a visitor can roughly determine the elevation by taking a look at the surrounding flora. Joshua Trees tend to flourish between the half mile and mile high elevations. This unique desert plant species is a reliable indicator of how high up the mountain you may be. More importantly, these iconic high desert trees are also an indicator of being just above the smog and dust level that accumulates in the valleys down below. Knowing this is essential for a successful night sky time lapse session. This dead reckoning method beats having to look at an elevation device in a smart phone when trying to seek a spot above the haze level that presents a nice view. The less distractions the better is always a good thing when the artistic thoughts start to flow.
I do have a habit of filming time lapse sessions in poor environmental conditions. For example, I first started learning night lime lapse at Lake Mead, which is more than challenging because of the bright Las Vegas city glow, zillions of jet trails and four wheelers with blazing bright lights. If you can cope with all this during the learning the process, it will be easier to overcome many obstacles further down the road.
Another point that needs to be mentioned is why I do not use polarizer filters on my camera lenses when capturing Destination West content. A polarizer can clear up the the dusty haze to reveal blue skies, clear water and colorful mountains. It is a useful tool for creating professional landscape imagery. In my own case, I administrate the Destination West travel website and I would rather have viewers see the real conditions that they will be facing. For other projects not connected to this tourism resource, I do take the opposite approach and clean it all up. For this reason, if you see hazy mountains or washed out blue skies in my photos or videos, that is how the landscape will appear to the naked eye while on location. As a photographer you should plan accordingly and make a choice as to which equipment will be needed to attain the results that you desire. A polarizer filter is a good option when used carefully.
As far as exact settings for time lapse or any photography is concerned, there is no one size fits all miracle cure. My night sky ability has progressed slowly, but it has improved with every new session. Striving to reach a goal will result in continually trying to improve the night sky camera settings by means of performing one night sky session at a time until that goal is reached. With experience, the correct settings for any given situation will become second nature.
There will be a big learning curve no matter whether you film night time lapse manually or with one of the automated modes. There is a big learning curve for the night sky RAW image file processing method and there certainly is a learning curve for processing the finished night time lapse videos inside the camera. For this reason, do not become discouraged if the results are not completely up to expectations. I certainly have published imperfect night sky scenes throughout my trial and error journey in these YouTube videos, but the content was still interesting enough to share. The Spring Mountains monsoon season series is when my own night sky sessions finally started coming together and there is still plenty of progress to be made. Overall the point being conveyed is never get discouraged and keep trying to improve, so that expensive camera does not get set aside to collect dust!
This little last ditty is very important for monsoon season photography in the high desert. Flash floods will be an ever present danger during the storm season. It is best to heed any warnings and be safe, so both you and your equipment do not perish!
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