Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Kentucky Sky

Kentucky Sky
Kentucky Sky

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Creating Time Lapse Videos - Kentucky Skies

We've all been fascinated by those amazing time lapse videos made by professional storm chasers and photographers alike. I have from time to time created a few rather ordinary time lapse videos using software that was not particularly suited for it. Using that other software was a time consuming process characterized by trial and error, mostly error, in coming up with a workable video. Even so it was fun to do and I learned a great deal about how to make videos of that nature.

Today, I now have some software, ProShow Producer, that makes it much easier to create interesting an exciting time lapse videos rather quickly. Lets take a look at the process.

First of all, to create a time lapse video you need to capture a series of images at a set interval spaced over a specified amount of time. The best way to do this is to use what is called an Intervalometer. An Intervalometer is a device you connect to your camera that allows you take a series of images without having to manually release the shutter each time.

There are a variety of them available designed to fit all makes of cameras and they cost anywhere from under $30.00 to well over $150.00. I purchased two of them from Aputure a few years ago, each costing under $30.00, one for my Sony A65 camera and one for my Nikon D3200. They are both identical except for the connector, and they both work very well.

They all fundamentally work the same way where you set a time delay between shots set to run for a specified number of shots at a specific interval. There are two ways to use them to make the exposure. One is to set your camera on Manual and your shutter speed to the Bulb setting. You then use the Intervalometer to control the exposure and the time interval between each capture. This setup works well for night time photography where long exposures are required. The other way is to allow your camera to set the exposure like you would for an normal photograph, but you simply set the interval between each capture. This works well for capturing time lapse of the sky.

To capture a time lapse sequence you will want to setup your intervalometer interval to capture an image at least every 5 seconds. This can vary depending on just how quickly you want the video to move, but something around 5 to 7 seconds between captures should work well.

You also want to capture at least 100 images, 200 or even 300 would work better and will give you a time lapse video that runs for an extended time. 100 images will give you a few seconds of time lapse.

Setup your camera to cover a greater extent of the sky with just a small line of the ground to act as an anchor. Stormy skies with lots of texture work very well, but summer blue sky and fluffy white clouds also work well. Actually you can time lapse just about anything that has movement, it is just a matter of getting the correct setup and being there.

After you capture the 200 or so images, you will want to download them to your computer. Once they are downloaded, you can do a mass processing to tweak the images. In Photoshop or Elements there is an option called Process Multiple Files. This allows you to make some basic edits that apply to all of the images, and then load those images to a separate file. This edited file is the one you will want to use.

ProShow Producer makes it very easy to create a time lapse. The easiest way to do this is first load the first image by itself into the timeline. Once it is loaded into the timeline you will want to adjust the transition timer to 0.0 and the Slide timer to 0.07 of a second.

I tried different timer settings and 0.07 seems to work the best. Next, you can select all the other 199 images and paste them into the next slide position. ProShow will automatically insert them into the correct location and it will also pickup the timer settings from the first slide. Now you have 200 images all linked together using the same settings.

From here it is simply a matter of creating the actual program. You can if you want to, add a beginning introduction slide and an ending exit slide, but it is not necessary. I rendered the program as an MP4 format slide show at 720 resolution at 30 FPS. It took a few minutes for it to complete. This completed video file can then be used or inserted into another full production program when you are ready for it. The attached time lapsed video is the results...rather fun and easy to create.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Adventure Photography Series - The Moving Waters of Shanty Hollow

Shanty Hollow Lake is one of my favorite places. Filled with an abundance of outdoor adventure opportunities, it is a great place to spend a few hours or a full day. As part of the Adventure Photography series, I recently spent a rare spring-like February day hiking the trails and photographing the streams and waterfalls that can be discovered here. Please enjoy this second in the Shanty Hollow adventure series; Photographing the Moving Waters of Shanty Hollow.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Adventure Photography Video Series - Chasing Sandhill Cranes

Spent the better part of a cold blustery full day and then a little more photographing Sandhill Cranes in the Lucas area on Barren River Lake. Sandhills are amazing birds that migrate through Kentucky where about 3000 to 4000 spend the winter roosting on the mud flats and feeding in the corn stubble and soybean fields.

Producing this video was a challenging project. Although the Sandhills are exciting to observe, they tend to shy away from people making it difficult to get in close enough to capture interesting behavioral activity. Fortunately, they will a times land near enough to side road where you can use your vehicle as a blind and get some shots.

Please enjoy the video and provide some feedback so I can improve the production process.