What should have been a fantastic sunset time lapse video turned into an epic fail and it was all my fault.
Let me explain.
It was a beautiful late spring evening in North Wales, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and there was hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the waters of the Conwy estuary as it entered the Irish Sea at Deganwy.
My wife Liz and I had been for a walk along the shoreline at Llanfairfechan, a little further west along the coast, and were heading back home to Mold when we decided to divert off to Deganwy to catch the sunset over the water.
We arrived about an hour before the event and I immediately noticed that the tide was almost fully out, exposing a tall wooden tower right at the tip of Conwy Morfa beach.
What a great opportunity for a time lapse video, especially with the sun setting past the silhouetted tower and reflecting in the still waters of the estuary at slack tide.
So we positioned ourselves so the sun would set in just the right spot relative to the tower and I set up my camera and tripod to record the event.
Which is where my problems started.
In my keenness to make as dramatic a time lapse as possible I used my big and heavy 100-400mm zoom lens, maxed out at 400mm.
Normally I can't use this arrangement as any sort of breeze causes the lens to bounce inbetween exposures, resulting in a twitchy video.
But with no wind I didn't reckon this would be a problem, and it wasn't.
My next decision was to set the interval between exposures at three seconds, to give as smooth a video as possible while allowing the camera to stop vibrating in-between shots.
Again - usually not a problem.
But the final straw was my need to change exposure settings on the fly as the light levels dropped.
I have a Canon app that allows me to do this from my smartphone, to avoid touching the camera and causing vibrations, but unfortunately it doesn't work when the camera is being controlled by an external intervalometer, as was the case here to give me those timed exposures.
So I ended up physically adjusting the exposure in 1/3rd stop increments by rotating the control wheel on top of the camera during that three second window in-between frames.
And that proved to be my downfall, as the camera was still shaking from my intervention when the next frame was taken.
You can see the effect on this video, with the frame jumping up and down with every exposure adjustment.
Needless to say I was really disappointed when I saw the final result, as apart from the twitching the actual time lapse was stunning.
But that's not the end of the story, as the following evening the weather and tide conditions were pretty similar.
So back we went to the same spot to re-shoot the sunset, this time with the camera settings a little less ambitious than before (200mm zoom, 4 second exposure gap).
And I'm glad to say that the second, improved attempt worked just fine, resulting in a smooth time lapse video of a beautiful sunset that you can watch by following this link.
You live and learn!
Filename - deganwy sunset timelapse 05.mp4
Camera - Canon EOS 6D
Lens - 100-400mm zoom @ 400mm
Exposure (start of sequence) - 1/4000 sec @ f5.6, ISO100
Exposure (end of sequence) - 1/200 sec @ f5.6, ISO100
Filters - None.
Shooting interval - 3 seconds
Location - Deganwy, North Wales coast
This clip - HD 720p, 30fps
Clip duration - 21 seconds
All content copyright © Howard Litherland 2009-2018 unless otherwise stated.