Note: To see this video at its best, click on the HD symbol to go to my Vimeo channel and watch the HD version.
Ever since I was a child, with a poster of the solar system on my bedroom wall, the night sky has fascinated me.
And now I'm in my fifties, with a 'decent in low light' Canon 6D digital camera at my disposal, I've re-discovered the joys of exploring the night skies through the twin mediums of still photography and time lapse.
I'm also learning that capturing decent images of the night skies isn't just a question of pointing your camera upwards and opening the shutter for a long period of time!
Of all the photographic genres, I find low light night time photography to be one of the most technically challenging, and therefore, one of the most satisfying when you manage to get everything right. (A condition which I've not achieved yet.)
This time lapse sequence, spanning over nine hours of continuous shooting starting just before sunset on 11th August 2015 and ending an hour after sunrise on the following morning, is a good case in point as it involved a lot of pre-planning, technical problem solving and post-processing jiggery-pokery to acheive the final result.
The shoot was timed to coincide with the Perseid meteor shower, and although no meteors appeared in the part of the sky covered by this time lapse I did get a decent meteor image on my other camera which was pointing northeast and firing continuously for a good part of the night.
But for me, the important aspect of this particular night was that there was no moon to swamp the sky with light, and it was late enough in the year to allow the sky to become fully dark for a couple of hours around midnight, thus allowing the milky way to be visible to the south.
And it was that southerly shooting direction that determined my preferred location for my night time adventure.
I needed a location that was away from towns and cities, which light up the sky with a vivid orange glow which can swamp faint stars and the gaseous parts of the milky way.
I also needed a location which looked interesting enough when pointing south.
These two factors drew me to Llanddwyn Island on the south western tip of Anglesey, just off the North Wales coast.
With relatively low levels of light pollution and a view to the south that takes in the iconic watchtower and the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula on the far horizon, Llanddwyn Island looked to be an ideal choice.
Having done the long term planning for the shoot, it was then a case of watching the weather forecast like a hawk and selecting a night with a clear sky predicted, for which the 11-12th August looked to be the best chance.
And so it proved to be, with clear skies all night long, allowing an uninterrupted view of the sunset, dusk and night with the milky way tracking through the sky, passing over the watchtower and on out of the camera's frame.
As dawn approached, a sea fog blew in which reduced visibility quite a bit, but then retreated as the sun started to rise and added a bit of mystery towards the end of the video.
I finally stopped shooting when the scene in front of me had become fully lit by the rising sun, and staggered back along the beach to my car for the drive home and breakfast, tired but elated at having seen and photographed such a beautiful display of God's creative wisdom.
Back home the post-processing of the 2,168 images that make up this time lapse had to wait a day while I recovered from the sleep deprivation! But that's another story....
Filename - dusk to dawn timelapse 02.mp4
Camera - Canon 6D
Lens - 17-40mm zoom @20mm
Exposure (start of sequence)
1/80 sec, f4, ISO100
Exposure (darkest time)
15 secs, f4, ISO6400
Exposure (end of sequence)
1/800 secs, f4, ISO100
Time between exposures - 15 secs
Location - Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey, North Wales
This clip - HD 720p
Clip duration - 82 secs
All content copyright © Howard Litherland 2009-2019 unless otherwise stated.