The High Desert Time Lapse video features dramatic cloud formations and several night sky scenes. This presentation is the third of five videos in the 2023 summer monsoon season collection. The filming sites were mainly located on the western slopes of the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada. The Pahrump Valley is featured in many scenes and the panoramic views extend well across the border into California. A few scenes were also filmed at the southern end of the Nopah Range, which is located on the west side of the Pahrump Valley.
The high desert monsoon season begins when tropical storm systems head north from the Gulf Of Mexico and Baja. These low pressure areas have a way of building clouds that certainly draws attention. Because of the colliding weather fronts, the skies may have multiple layers of clouds at various altitudes moving in completely different directions. This creates an interesting time lapse effect and there are several more unique monsoon anomalies to be seen in this series of stormy videos.
Partial and full rainbows were captured in a few scenes in this video. The rapidly building cumulus thunderheads over the 11,900 foot tall mountain range are a fascinating study. The sundown time lapse clips also show lightning flashes in the distance, which indicate just how powerful these desert storms can be. One of the night sky scenes features an intense thick low level dust storm cloud rolling through the Pahrump Valley that eventually covers the city lights with an eery glow.
There are several night sky time lapse scenes that feature passing clouds and celestial events. I finally dialed in the camera aperture mode settings to handle both the city lights and the milky way passing through the sky during these sessions. A little too much or too little ISO gain can be seen in a few examples, but the clips are still interesting to view. I usually set the Kelvin Temperature for night sky between 3500 and 4000, but sometimes I forget after filming a golden hour to blue hour time lapse with daylight auto white balance. This explains why the sky is black in some Milky Way clips, while the sky is deep blue in the rest.
The annual Leonid Meteor Shower most definitely was not a disappointment in 2023 and countless thin meteor streaks flash through the night sky scenes. There is plenty of jet trail and satellite activity in these skies at night too, which imparts an impression of outer space travel when viewed as time lapse. Of course, the space station blue streak makes appearances too. I also added a few star trails time lapse scenes that add an artistic touch.
One of the star trails clips is a portrait style view of the galactic center passing through the sky. There are so many bright stars in the Milky Way that the finished star trail resembles a white out snow storm! This was the first time making a Milky Way star trails time lapse and I employed a good tip about how to present it that I read many years ago.
Watching a Milky Way time lapse slowly white out the entire dark sky is boring to view. The tip stated that in order to breakup the monotony, try dividing the time lapse photos into three or four groups, then arrange the groups randomly in the video timeline. This will cause several blank spots to appear in the star trails, so a viewer can watch the blanks being slowly filled in. This is not as boring as seeing thousands of long curved lines move painstakingly slow through the sky at one time.
Yet another star trail scene features a lucky break. Many people simply do not bother making a star trails time lapse if clouds enter the picture, because it will usually end up looking like a mess. I always make one anyway, just to see if anything interesting turns up. The example of a lucky find in this high desert video is the one with the circular star tails caused by pointing the camera towards the North Star. A passing small cloud bank cast long white streaks through the Polaris star trails and ended by highlighting a solitary large Joshua Tree on the mountainside. The effect was captivating enough to share!
Yes there is dumb luck involved with night sky time lapse photography, but as experience is gained in the field, making the unique captures happen will become intuitive. The more aware of the environment that you are, the more opportunities will arise. Reading the future or forecasting is a critical part of the time lapse video production game. This is especially true if you process the night sky time lapse videos inside the camera. In order to accomplish this, you will have to predict the camera settings needed for the entire video before the filming session begins. I personally do enjoy the challenge, because this technique provides something to ponder over during the long wait between time lapse sessions!
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