Starlight Redwoods

This past weekend my wife and I got out of town and head to Northern California for some camping and hiking in the Humbold Redwood State Park.  The goals of the weekend were simple: enjoy some much needed time together, explore this State Park that we have wanted to visit for years, and make some photos along the way.

One of the things I was hoping to try out was doing a time lapse video of still photos taken of the night sky.  Since we were going to be far removed from the light pollution of the city, this was a good time to experiment with it.  (Of course I decide to do that in one of the places with the tallest trees on the planet!).

Click through on the above photo for a HD video that is a combination of 141 consecutive frames, each one 25 seconds long (17mm f/4 @ 1600 ISO).

When I was planning this before the trip, I thought I would need a Canon Timer Remote to be able to trigger the sutter continuously to capture this series.  While in the field it occurred to me that using my existing Canon Remote with my camera in continous shooting mode and then locking the remote would accomplish the what I needed.  Continous shooting with out continous attention.  The trees are illuminate by a camp ground building across from our site.  And the bright burst was the result of a late night camper pulling into their spot.

The trick with this type of exposure is pushing the camera to keep the exposures under 30 seconds.  More than 30 seconds and the stars will turn into streaks.  So it becomes a trade off between sharpness of stars compared to noise from the high ISO.  And using noise reduction software only makes he stars even less sharp.

Once back from the trip, I processed one photo and then synced those changes across all images using Lightroom.  I then used FotoMagico Pro to create the slide show and exported it as the HD QuickTime movie.

Note: for a more in depth review of FotoMagico, see Jim Goldstein’s FotoMagico 2.5 Review.  From my experiences using the demo version to create this movie, it is very easy to use and a great tool.  There are some usability improvements I would like to see (like a way to configure watermarking once instead of for each slide show; and a sort option for the photos).  It should also be noted that Boinx Software’s website (makers of FotoMagico) was very slow and errored on me a few times when I tried to download the demo.  And then the software crashed on me when saving the slide show not to mention might have caused my Mac to crash when I put it to sleep with FotoMagico running (not directly blamming it for that one, but it was the only new thing running at the time).

5 thoughts

  1. Spectacular show.
    How did you settle on 25 seconds?
    I presume you set it to manual focus. If you intention was a movie did you choose a resolution lower than the default
    maximum?

    [Reply]

  2. @ BF:

    Yes, the camera was on manual focus as it was too dark for auto focus to pick up anything. Manual focus on Infinity. The images were all standard RAW, I had a 2 Gig CF in the camera and figured either the card would fill up or the camp fire would burn down, which ever one happened first was the end of my shooting (for the record, it was the camp fire 🙂 ).

    25 seconds just happened to be the result of 141 photos and the settings I used in FotoMagico.

    [Reply]

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