Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day off for me. In years past I’ve tried to get out and take some photos. Sometimes it’s been a local trip, and sometimes we have ranged farther. This year taking a longer trek was out of the question, so I stayed close by. Turns out I had a full day of photography, with lots to learn along the way. I’ll break it into three parts…
Falls Park Time-Lapse
Laura and I had appointments in the morning, and I wanted to watch the Obama inauguration around noon. So, it wasn’t until early afternoon that I was able to set off. I’ve got a hair-brained idea for doing a series of time-lapse videos around Greenville, and I wanted to shoot some proof-of-concept videos to test the waters. I headed down to Falls Park and the River Place area.
As part of my proof-of-concept I wanted to use several time-lapse techniques. I’ve got a new app for the iPhone called Miniatures that will do fake tilt-shift time-lapse. This type of video works best if you have some activity going on, and you can shoot down from above. So, I set up my gear from the overlook on the Main Street side of Liberty Bridge and started shooting. I had the iPhone on a tripod with the Camalapse panning tool, and the GoPro on a Gorillapod strapped to the railing.
Here are two short videos from the Miniatures app…
I figured 1 shot every 2 seconds would work better for capturing street activity than my usual 1:5 interval. At 30 fps, it would take one minute for every second of video I wanted. My plan was to shoot about 25 seconds worth (25 minutes) at several locations, then stitch them together in one video. I had planned to do this at 1080p HD. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after I got home that I discovered that I had the Miniatures app set for the default 640X480 resolution. I couldn’t use it. I also discovered that my GoPro had not been running at all in this location. Darn.
I moved over to the Main Street bridge and set up again, looking back toward the falls.
This time I discovered another problem. For some reason my Camalapse stopped turning. It was stuck in one position. The video was still interesting…
Fortunately, the GoPro worked perfectly this time. However, since it’s such a wide angle, the bridge railing looks very distorted, and it doesn’t pick up any of the activity on the bridge.
While I was waiting for the time-lapse on the Main Street Bridge I heard someone call my name. I turned around, and there was my sister Glynda. She parked and joined me for the rest of the photo outing.
We crossed the street and set up to shoot upstream toward River Place.
I still had problems with the Camalapse not turning, but I had another problem. Halfway through one session a girl with a little dog walked by. The dog came over and grabbed my tripod leg, shaking the camera. I had to start all over. I was able to get a few seconds of time-lapse from the GoPro, but the tilt-shift was a no-go (yeah, I know that rhymes.)
So far I had been disappointed. I decided for one more try from one of my favorite photo locations, the top floor of the former Bowater parking garage. It has great views of the Liberty Bridge, but not so much of the falls themselves. The time-lapse turned out OK on the GoPro, but I didn’t even try the Miniatures app. The bridge was back lit, and I figured it wouldn’t do very well.
So, there were some disappointments, but also some cool snippets of video. The tilt-shift videos were cool, but I couldn’t adjust exposure, etc. I’d be better off if I used the Nikon D7000 with its intervalometer and adjusted the videos in LightRoom or something similar. I also learned I can’t count on the Camalapse as much as I would have liked. It turns a bit too quickly for 1:2 interval, even when it does work. Unless I use the Ken Burns effect on the clips, I’d have to get one of those expensive dolly systems, and I’m not quite ready for that.
Driving at Night
Even a holiday Monday is still a Monday, and in my world that means Chorale rehearsal of some form or other. I love the repertoire we’re doing for our Chorale Chamber Ensemble concert in February, but really wasn’t ready to quit my photography projects just yet. I clipped the GoPro to the windshield, left it in 1:2 second time-lapse, and headed out. After rehearsal, I did the same thing.
Night works very well for these automated shots. Several years ago I used a Nikon S1 on I-85. I loved the resulting light blurs. This evening didn’t disappoint, either. I got nearly 1000 shots, and it was hard to select which ones I wanted to upload. Here are a few…
Here’s the resulting time-lapse…
I think next time I’ll mount the camera on the roof rack with one of the mounting brackets that I got for the camera. That would be much better than shooting through a grimy windshield.
As late as it was after rehearsal, I had one more photography project.
Moon and Jupiter
This evening the moon and Jupiter were as close as they would ever be in the night sky. I pulled out the Celestron Telescope and set up for a couple of shots. I took one with just the regular camera lens on automatic…
As close as these two were to the naked eye and as they appeared in this shot, in the telescope they looked much farther apart. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stabilize the shot lie I might have wanted, so Jupiter didn’t come out as clearly as I would have liked.
So, all in all, a great day of photography. I learned a few gotchas about time-laps, but they were worthwhile lessons.