How to Shoot & Process
NIGHTSCAPES AND TIME-LAPSES
Digital SLR and new mirrorless cameras allow us to capture images of the night sky impossible or difficult to take years ago with film.
In this 3- to 5-hour workshop, I take you through the steps needed to capture beautiful landscape scenes at night – "nightscapes" – that include the Northern Lights, meteor showers, and the Milky Way, using no more than the equipment you already own: a DSLR or mirrorless camera and a tripod.
The same gear can also be used to take stunning time-lapse movies of the stars turning or clouds moving above a moonlit landscape.
I show you how to shoot and assemble these movies, from simple techniques to advanced methods with motion-control dollies and bulb-ramping devices.
COURSE CONTENT (Varies with the length of the Workshop)
Included are tips and techniques on...
• Setting your DSLR camera for minimum noise and maximum detail
• Making use of moonlight and knowing where the Moon will be
• Shooting sky events such as conjunctions, aurora, and meteor showers
• Capturing the Milky Way over a photogenic landscape
• How to track the stars for even greater detail in the sky setting
• Intervals and exposures for effective time-lapse shooting
• Shooting motion-control movies with pan/tilt and dolly systems
• Avoiding frame-to-frame flicker in time-lapse movies
• Creating the "holy grail" time-lapse: the day-to-night transition
• Recommended workflows for nightscape and time-lapse processing
• Processing nightscapes, including layering composite shots
• Stacking images to create long-exposure star trails
• Processing the hundreds of images of a typical time-lapse sequence
• Assembling the frames into a final movie
Using recent images I've shot, I work through specific examples to demonstrate how to process still images and time-lapse movies using both the common and the little-known functions of Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom, as well as specialized programs such as LRTimeLapse and StarStaX.
I specifically cover how to...
• Select full frame vs. cropped frame DSLRs
• Select lenses (zooms vs. primes) for nightscapes
• Set exposure and interval to balance noise, sharpness, and clip length
• Calculate frame rate and count for desired time-lapse movie length
• Shoot Raw vs. JPG format images
• Select specialized camera control software and intervalometers
• Shoot and assemble multi-frame panoramas of the night sky
• Include the Moon and planets to make interesting nightscapes
• Calculate where the Moon will be to illuminate your scene
• Use moonlight or artificial light to illuminate a nightscape
• Avoid common problems at the camera, such as dew
• Frame and focus at night
• Take and apply dark frames to reduce noise
• Power gear in the field
• Stack short exposures to create star trails
• Select the best final movie frame rates and formats
• Perform a "bulb ramp" to take smooth day-to-night transitions
• Use tracking mounts and platforms, and recommended units
• Use motorized mounts to create movies that pan and tilt across the scene
• Use motorized dolly rails to incorporate "Hollywood-style" camera moves
• Post-process frames with specialized tools such as TLDF and LRTimeLapse to remove flicker and apply transitions over a clip
• Use Photoshop and other programs to assemble and process movies
All workshop participants receive a handout PDF via download of the presentation's slides, as well as of the step-by-step processing techniques demonstrated live in the Workshop.