The Western Time Lapse Collection 2 video features dramatic clouds, weather events and night sky scenes at several destinations west of the Rockies. A music soundtrack was embedded to enhance the viewing experience. Other than the titles, there is no dialogue or distractions. There is only one short captivating time lapse after another!
All of my 2020-2022 time lapse videos were filmed during my Covid isolation camping tour, which lasted two and a half years. Since I was camping and only relied upon a 60 watt solar panel to power up the equipment, there were limitations to negotiate. I was on a very tight budget and the data storage was also limited, so interval shooting a time lapse in RAW format was not possible. The answer at that time was to let the camera do all the work and limit the time lapse project to a side show act. The exception was the night sky sessions.
Setting the interval is required for every lime lapse video, so this is a good starting point for beginners. A 5 second interval between each photograph is a good standard for clouds. A 10 second interval makes the clouds move rapidly through a scene, while 5 seconds is more like driving the speed limit. An interval setting of 2 or 3 seconds is fairly slow moving, but a short interval is best for city traffic or sunsets. With a 5 second interval, an entire sunset will only last a few seconds in a finished video, which is only enough for a brief flash of color. For this reason, if you really want to do great sunset time lapse videos, then shorten the interval between exposures so the finished time lapse progresses slowly. For clouds, keep the interval moderate to fast or 5 to 10 seconds.
Different rules apply to night time lapse. If you want pinpoint sharp stars, then I suggest using the exposure calculator at the PhotoPills website, which is the best resource for night sky photography. Some mirrorless cameras require an unbelievably short exposure for pinpoint stars, when compared to older DSLR cameras and this takes getting used to. Mirrorless also handles higher ISO settings quite well, so all of the old night sky rules can be tossed out. PhotoPills definitely has correct data to refer to, so have a look.
If you just want to make a star trails time lapse, then it is best to use longer exposures, so you do not have to stack tons of short exposure images with star trails software. Too long of an exposure will cause the camera sensor to overheat and there will be pixel hot spots. An exposure over 20 seconds will widen the star trails, so there actually is a limit. An entire page can be devoted to covering the night sky time lapse topic, so I will save it for another time.
This Western Time Lapse Collection 2 video does feature several night sky time lapse scenes at Trona Pinnacles. At that time I was playing with timing a moonrise event so the moon would light up the landscape toward the end of the video. Knowing when moonrise occurs is easy to research, but knowing when the moon will rise above a tall mountain to the east requires an educated guess. If you nail the timing, the reward will be an even more dramatic looking finished product and a sense of accomplishment will be gained!
Knowing when and where sunrise will occur also creates opportunities and there is a good example in this video. I spotted a large spinning lenticular cloud formation before dawn over the mountains next to Trona Pinnacles. The sun was due to rise at that exact same spot, so I set up the tripod to film the show. The spinning lenticular cloud time lapse was captured with a bright sun star popping out of the unique cloud formation for a happy ending. Captures like this only happen if you are well aware of the environmental conditions, which will become second nature with experience.
• Chihuahuan Desert, CA
• Death Valley, CA
• Desert National Wildlife Refuge, NV
• Virgin Mountains, AZ
• Angel Peak, NM
• Trona Pinnacles, CA
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