I was having a discussion with my boss Marv today and we came to the realization that I never finish anything. Or, rather, I never consider anything finished. I just stop when I have to and revisit when I can sneak back in. I like revisiting old projects. I think that process has made me better over the years and it helps guide me when I have a camera in my hand. Every mistake only makes you better. As long as you’re aware of them anyway.

That being said I decided I should share this time-lapse I shot out at (Geauga Park DistrictObservatoryPark) Observatory Park in Montville, Ohio. I’ve been playing with this sequence whenever I’ve had a few minutes free. It’s not exactly the best way to execute a project like this & It’s resulted in a few thousand spare files and a number of mp4 files that I can’t really discern a difference between.

* just a quick warning, this is long & probably confusing, if you make it to the end let me know if you have questions.

The Process:

I shot about 500 frames between midnight and five a.m. with my #Nikon #D810 on a tripod. Having been to Observatory park a handful of times now I remembered the wind vane that was situated along one of the paths. I was heading out later than I hoped & committed to the idea of setting up there and trying to frame the arrow pointing at the #northstar#Polaris. I was hoping to capture the stars rotating around that fixed point in the night sky & potentially the milky way rising in the same frame.

Using the @PhotoPills app on my #iphone I was able to determine where the milky way would rise from and where it would ultimately fade out in the early morning hours.

I set my camera to ISO 5000 at f 2.8 with a 30 second exposure. I turned off Nikons long exposure noise reduction feature to reduce the amount of times between frames. This feature, although really good at what it does, takes about as long to reduce noise as it took to shoot the frame. This would result in lots of gaps throughout the time-lapse. I shot at 24mm and framed the wind vane the best I could so I could also capture the milky way and started my intervalometer and left it alone for the rest of the night. I had other photos to capture & if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that you need to commit early and quickly in these situations, otherwise you don’t get much in the way of useful images for a time-lapse or image stack.

My friend Dobo joined me that night. I felt a little guilty for dragging anyone along, I have a tendency to stick it out at the sake of my own comfort and common sense. But he was a trooper and we spent most of the night trying to name constellations, planets and letting our eyes adjust long enough to see the #milkyway.

Once blue-hour broke, I began tearing down my frost covered gear, hoping for the best, but really just needing to get somewhere warm... QUICKLY. 

Back at the computer the first thing I did was create a composite image to bring out the colors and details of the milky way and combine a few of the meteors we were able to see into a single frame. I posted it a few weeks ago if you haven’t seen it yet.

Since then, I took those 500 or so frames into LRTimelapse 5 and started the process of creating the #timelapse. I did my color & general image corrections in #Adobe #Lightroom (Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) and then back in into #LRTimelapse5 to smooth out my exposures and to eliminate the flickering (mostly caused by my headlamp).

Once I had a usable #6K .MOV file, I took the individual frames from the time-lapse into an application called #StarStaX which layers the individual files over one another and blends them together into a single #startrail frame. You also have the option of saving out the individual progressive frames as JPGs, which I did and rendered yet another time-lapse. I converted that whole mess into a 4K UHD MP4 & proceeded to destroy my file quality by rendering a 720p low bitrate file to try and make it past the Instagram & facebook compression algorithms. 

If I had to do it again I would shoot it at a lower ISO, and maybe an even shorter exposure. It works well for the time-lapse but there is almost too much information for the #startrails. I’ll try to remember this for next time.

#nightphotography #Startrails #PhotoPills#Astrophotography #nightsky #milkyway #universetoday #exploreohio #Darksky#darkskypark

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