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Moon Timelapse #9

The story behind this video

A clear sky evening with no wind near midsummer 2018 gave me the perfect opportunity to point my camera and lens skywards to record the passage of the full moon across the darkened heavens.

I've been shooting this particular time lapse with varying degrees of sucess for many years now, and I reckon this is the best one yet thanks to various tricks I've learnt the hard way.

Here are just some of the thing's I've learnt.

1. Watch for wind

My 100-400mm zoom lens is very susceptible to twitching if used in any anything less than a gentle zephyr. No problem for a single image but induces nausea in a time lapse sequence with the video jumping around.

2. Avoid zoom creep

Point my 100-400mm Canon zoom lens upwards at any reasonable angle and the lens will slowly unzoom itself from its maximum setting as time goes by.

It's an old lens and the friction grip has long since given up.

The solution? A short length of duct tape to hold the zoom action in place!

3. Mirror induced vibration

I used to have to limit the time between exposures to a minimum of four seconds to allow the vibrations from mirror to die away before the next exposure could be taken, otherwise the fine detail on the surface of the moon would be blurred.

A four second gap between exposures at a focal length of 400mm results in a somewhat jerky movement of the moon across the frame, but I found the answer to this problem to be ridiculously simple.

I now shoot these sequences with live view turned on, which means that the reflex mirror is permanently up, rather than banging up and down with every exposure.

No more mirror vibration, and a gap between exposures of two seconds gives a lovely smooth transition of the moon from one side of the frame to the other.

4. Watch the exposure

In the past I've been tempted to push the exposure of the moon as high as it would go, just up to the point of 'blinky' warnings appearing on my camera's monitor, only to find later on in post processing that some of the finer details on the moon's surface had burnt out.

So for this timelapse I deliberately dialled back on the exposure setting to make sure that I didn't lose any of that lovely fine detail on the face of the moon.

So there you have it. One of the things I love about photography is that there's always room for improvement, both from the technical and the artistic point of view.

And it's very satisfying when you get something right after quite a few previous attempts!

Video data

Filename - moon timelapse 09.mp4

Camera - Canon EOS 6D

Lens - 100-400mm zoom @ 400mm

Exposure (start of shoot) - 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO100
Exposure (end of shoot) - 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO100

Filters - None.

Shooting interval - 2 seconds

Location - North Wales

This clip - HD 720p, 30fps (4k & 1080p versions available)

Clip duration - 23 seconds