The Lake Mead Clouds Time Lapse Collection 2 features a wide range cloud formations and fast moving weather fronts. All scenes in this video were filmed during my lengthy Covid 19 isolation camping tour, which turned into a continuous content producing journey. The time lapse movies were originally just made for personal entertainment when camping way out of cellular signal range. Eventually I accumulated dozens of time lapse clips and soon realized that I had just taken on yet another publishing project and started filming time lapse every opportunity.
I do not sell products and I simply do not care about which modern camera brand is the best. Honestly, every major brand offers camera gear that is more than capable of getting any task done. As far as lenses are concerned, I do recommend native glass, especially for mirrorless cameras, which have sophisticated image correction systems. Fast lenses with excellent dust and weather protection are best for extreme environmental conditions. For clouds time lapse, an ultra wide angle lens produces the most dramatic effects, yet there are situations where a telephoto lens may be a better choice.
Dust is definitely the enemy of time lapse videos. One speck of dust on a camera sensor can ruin an entire day's work, especially if the time lapse video is processed inside the camera. When filming in the desert southwest, one must simply plan on encountering high winds and dust storms. Using a magnifying glass to inspect the sensor prior to filming or before the winds kick up is a good practice. Not changing lenses too often when outdoors is another good habit.
A sturdy tripod that is dust proof is also the best choice. For high winds it is best to shorten the tripod legs and position them almost horizontal so the camera is nearly ground level. Boulders or sand bags can then be used to weight each leg down. This system works when when wind gusts are 60 to 80 mph. What does not always work in high winds is hanging a dead weight from the tripod to keep it in place.
For example, I had 40 pounds of weight holding a tripod steady on a windy day at Trona Pinnacles. I had an old damaged 24-70 2.8 that had a bent barrel from a previous oops that I used that day. I figured it would not be a big sacrifice if something bad happened, since the lens needed to be repaired anyway. All of a sudden a very strong gust well over 60 mph actually picked the entire 40 pound weighted tripod rig up and slammed the 24-70 lens on the ground. When I heard the thud, I instantly knew what happened and thought I had a total loss. After checking the camera and lens I actually got a big smile on my face. The impact actually straightened the lens barrel back to the correct position and the lens was working perfectly once again! I was very lucky that day, but if that old 24-70 was brand new I would have been kicking myself in the head. All I can say is keeping the tripod low is the way to go in high winds. Just be sure to place weights on top of the tripod legs and your gear will not disappear.
High winds definitely also happen at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Even worse, there are silt pits all over this landscape that are loaded with gypsum dust. This kind of dust literally adheres to glass and a rocket blower will not knock the dust off. For this reason, be sure to pack a lens dust brush because it sure will come in handy at Lake Mead.
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