Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time Lapse Tragedy

I have been experimenting with creating time lapse video from stills and have popped a couple of them on YouTube.  The first one was back in late October where I was trying to get a nice sunrise but where I initially wanted to shoot from was covered by low cloud so I had to find somewhere else.  By the time I got to this place I had missed quite a bit of the sunrise but managed to capture about 500 shots to make this first video.


It was a bit of a learning experience and this is what I figured out.
1. Take the photos in jpeg instead of raw because they take about a quarter the size and don't fill my memory cards as quickly.  They also are less power hungry on the computer when processing them.
2. This clip took about 45 minutes to take so have something else to do while your waiting.  I'll take my other camera next time and maybe my iPod so I can listen to some music or a podcast.
3. Reduce the time between shots so there are more stills available to create the video.
4. Keep warm, it can get pretty chilly if you are standing about in the early morning or evening.

Since the first experiment I've not had the opportunity and suitable weather conditions at the same time to do more time lapsing until last weekend.  So Saturday morning I planned to get up early but unfortunately my bed was warm and comfortable so it wasn't that early when I set off.  As before I was a bit late getting into position and then the sky was too clear with a band of low cloud just on the horizon where the sun was coming up.  So my first set of shots where of a piece of clear orange sky with the smallest bit of cloud drifting across.

I was at Scout Dyke reservoir again and the water level was lower than I've ever seen it.  For the first shots I was well down towards the water to try and get some reflections from the water but that didn't seem to help.  I tried a different angle and position as the wind was picking up and bringing some more clouds over into the scene.  But they weren't coming over fast enough and they were just grey blobs when they arrived so not very interesting.  It was all very muddy in the reservoir bottom and where the mud dried up a bit it had cracked and made some patterns on the ground which may add interest to the shots.

In the meantime I was wandering around with my other camera looking for a few still photos to take and I noticed the start of some pinkness in the clouds in the other side of the sky to where the sun was rising. I spun the camera around 180 degrees for my next attempt and captured the clouds clip below.  It was very windy and even on my tripod the camera was getting blown about which is why it was so shaky.  Also I was wandering about taking other shots and I had the radio trigger in my pocket and I think I must have gone out of range a bit because there seems to be some missing frames occasionally.



As the above clip was being captured I noticed that the clouds in the sky in the other direction were starting to come over more and getting some colours in them.  I swung the camera around again on the tripod to continue filming towards the sun.  I took a couple of steps away and then the tragedy happened. Over went tripod with the wind and the camera landed lens front down in the thick mud.  Here's the shot just before it went over ...


... and this was the first shot after I picked it up again.  The remote trigger was still firing away even when it was face down in the mud but those picture were a bit dark.


I decided it was time to go home so I dragged my stuff up onto the bank and here's a shot of the camera still on the tripod ,with a dirty, dirty lens.


When I got home I took the lens off the camera for one last shot before I got to work getting it clean (it took quite a while).


So it was only a minor tragedy and the clip is OK, not good.  What did I learn this time.
1. If it's too windy the time lapse is going to be shaky unless you can really tie the camera down.  I have a reasonable tripod, and it was very low but I still had issues.  I wonder maybe I should have removed the neck strap because that was getting blown about quite a lot and was probably contributing to the movement.
2. Especially if it is windy, make sure the tripod is secure.  Maybe I should have tied a rock to it or opened the legs wider so it had a more sturdy base.
3. Don't keep changing position because if I had left it in the original position the clouds would have come over eventually and my lens wouldn't have been covered in mud.  Also I noticed as I was leaving that ground which was in the frame on the clouds movie started to get lit up by the orange light of the sun, so continuing that clip may have had some added interest later.
4. If wandering around taking other pictures while the time lapse is running it is probably a good idea to leave the remote trigger near the camera to prevent missing frames.

I'm looking forward to my next attempt, hopefully I will have more success.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Fairburn and Ledsham

We've not been anywhere this week so I looked back through some of the folders from the last couple of months that I haven't posted.  It was yet another of the AA Walks in West Yorkshire and it was another sunny, almost cloudless day.  We started the walk in the village of Fairburn which is East of Leeds just North of where the A1 crosses the M62.  From the village we went down a path into the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) sanctuary called Fairburn Ings.  I think I may have posted about this place before a couple of years ago.  Its on the site of an old coal mine and is made up of regenerated slag heaps and water filled areas.

As we walked into the sanctuary I took this photo of the main lake through some trees on the banking.  It was supposed to be a bit arty with the silhouetted trees making a frame for the water and trees behind.


There are a number of hides around the lake where you can sit and watch the bird out on the water.  Unfortunately the first hide looking out onto the smaller lake had been closed because someone had tried to burn it down.  This next photo is of the swans, cormorants, ducks and seagulls out on the islands in the middle of the lake.  There is quite a selection of different kinds of ducks out on the lake including shelducks, pochards and tufted ducks.


A bit further around the path was some bushes with what at first looked like pink berries.  On closer inspection they were more like flowers with orange berries inside.  I took a few photos of the whole bush but prefer this close up of one of the twigs.


Continuing along the path you end up at the RSPB office and shop where there's toilets and a cafe.  Opposite the building is a small area with lots of bird feeders full of all sorts of different food.  This particular one appeared to be the favourite for the Gold Finches as they kept swooping in and out from the surrounding trees.


We walked through the car park onto a walkway to the big lake and there was a seagull perched on the fence.  I managed to get fairly close before it flew off.  In the picture there are some more gulls sat on a wooden perch out in the water.


We left the bird sanctuary and headed North on a path towards Ledsham.  This next picture is looking back towards the lake with the cooling towers of Ferrybridge power station in the background.  I guess in the past the power station would have taken all of the coal from the mines in this area.


When we reached Ledsham we went to a pub called the Chequers Inn where we had a lovely lunch and a bottle of wine in their beer garden.  I'm glad we came for the walk on Saturday because the pub is closed on a Sunday and we'd have been very disappointed.  The story of why it's closed on Sundays is on thier website, linked above.

There were lots of lovely buildings in the village including this ancient church which has a history going back into the 6th century (yes 6th), making it one of the oldest churches in England.


Behind the church was a row of lovely old cottages with this beautiful lawned area at the front.


It was very dark inside the church so it was quite difficult to get these next two pictures.  The first is of the main aisle in the oldest part of the church.


The next picture is looking through into what was a second aisle which was built much later and used to double the size of the church.  The church has had many changes over the centuries including several different tower designs.  In the first picture of the church you can see where they have used a completely different type of stone when they added a steeple to the existing tower.  In the picture below they have removed the back wall of the church and put in these big arches to open up the two aisles to each other.


After leaving Ledsham I took this photo looking to the rolling hills to the North.  I particularly like the shadow of the trees behind me stretching across the newly mown field.


I quite like this photo of the trees but it is slightly spoilt by the electricity pylon in the background.  I guess being so close to a big power station it's quite hard not to get the pylons or electric lines somewhere in your view.


This photo is looking back towards Ledsham with the church and some of the big houses visible within the trees.


A little further along was this field with the haystacks.  It's hard to see in the picture but this field had quite a slope in two directions.  Th front haystack looked as though it was ready to fall over.


We were almost back in Fairburn now and this picture is another grand looking tree in a field.  Again unfortunately spoilt by the power lines going across the sky in the background.  I did consider removing them and I might yet.


Well it had been a beautiful day for the middle of October, but as we've had even more beautiful days since it doesn't feel that special now.  We're in December now and it has been the warmest Autumn for a few years.  Of course now there are suggestions that we might be heading for a drought but I'm sure we're going to get plenty of wet weather in the next few months so I don't take that too seriously.  It's raining quite hard now as I type this so it doesn't look as if I'll get out much tomorrow for a walk.