Fireworks in water

Fireworks in water 1

85 mm; f/11; 2.0 s; ISO 100

I had my camera with an 85mm lens on it at a fireworks display last weekend.  Not the easiest focal length for fireworks and I didn’t have a tripod either, so I tried something a bit different and got the fireworks reflected in the harbour.  Some of them look quite funky!

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Aligning sun images using Python

Sun RAW frame collage

Fix it in post. It’s a common phrase in photography and one which is widely recognised as landing you in hot water if you’re not careful. Fix it in post-production, fix it after the fact. “Hm, I’ll just fix that in post.”

Well when I spent a day taking a few hundred photos of Venus crossing the sun last year with the intention of creating a time-lapse but without a tracking system, “fix it post” was my mantra by necessity. For 7 hours I followed the sun across the sky just by nudging my camera mount this way or that. As a result the sun was in a different place in every photo. The fact I wasn’t standing on the equator at the time meant it rotated too. Continue reading

Graphically verifying time-lapse intervals using ExifTool (and Excel)

Timestamp plot - annotated

Here’s a quick and easy way to check time-lapse intervals using a combination of ExifTool, (a great command-line application for reading and writing image EXIF data) and a program such as Excel to process and plot the data. Continue reading

Canon 5D Mark III astrophotography

The Bulge

“The Bulge”; Single exposure, ISO 5000, 24 mm, f/2.8, 20 sec

If anything shows off the low light capabilities of the 5D Mark III, it’s astrophotography. For me this doesn’t go any deeper than wide angle shots of the night sky, but luckily I got to try out the camera on some really dark nights at Siding Spring Observatory earlier this year. What strikes me about the 5DIII’s high ISO noise performance is how much colour and contrast detail you can retain. Bear in mind all these shots are at f/2.8.. if only I had a 1.4! Continue reading

Hyperlapse photography test using existing structures

I’ve long been a bit of a time-lapse junkie, so when I saw this video of Moscow a few months ago I was really impressed. People have started calling this technique ‘hyperlapse’, and it’s a combination of time-lapse photography with a large but calculated movement of the camera between shots. I thought I’d have a go without using any special rigs or mounts – instead of worrying about moving the camera precise distances, I thought I’d find some existing structure to do the measuring for me.

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PIR motion sensors for time-lapse photography

Using a household security sensor to trigger time-lapse cameras “when stuff is happening”

How do you efficiently capture something about as big as a truck being sporadically hand assembled over a period of one year?  This is a question I recently faced when setting up time-lapse cameras on a major instrumentation project at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO).

A typical time-lapse approach is to take photos at fixed intervals for the duration of whatever process you’re trying to capture.  The AAO’s assembly schedule for HERMES, a high resolution astronomical spectrograph, didn’t lend itself to this approach for three reasons: i) nothing was going to happen on evenings or weekends; ii) there would be many ‘dead’ periods when work was being done outside of the main assembly area and therefore out of shot; and iii) it would go on for a year, which meant camera shutter life might have become a limiting factor.  What I needed was for photos to be taken only when work was being done, and to do so at short intervals so that these events translated into a reasonable number of frames in the final video.

I decided to use a Passive Infra-Red (PIR) motion sensor to govern when the cameras were triggered.  These sensors are used all the time for outdoor security lights, and they’re super cheap (about $20 from a DIY store).  By using a PIR sensor, the cameras would only fire when someone was in the room, i.e. “when stuff was happening”. Continue reading