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Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

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  • Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

    parts of this posting are also posted in the TimeScapes Forum
    Hello Forum,

    On Saturday Juli 25 2009 in the evening I started a timelapse shoot of the sky from a 7.5 meter high pole standing besides my house.
    The day after, just a couple of hours before the end of a full 24 hour timelapse, I had to stop the shoot because it started to rain :-(

    Despite the missing hours I am pleased about the result.
    In the link below you can see the timelapse (image 1), the photos of the setup (images 2 to 5) and an interactive 360x92 degree panorama created from of one the 2520 source frames (image 6).

    largest size, 700x700 px movie (29 MB):

    smallest size, 480x480 px movie (12 MB):

    Some notes about the timelapse:
    If you know something about astronomy I guess you can recognize some star constellations in the night images.
    The orange light from the clouds in the night images is reflecting light from the petrochemical industries at a distance of 25 km to the NorthEast (industries at the "Botlek" and "Maasvlakte").
    The part early in the morning is a little boring but at 2/3 of the movie the scene becomes interesting, it is clear to see how different layers of air are moving in totally different directions, it is a really weird view.

    Some notes about the hardware and software:
    The camera with Sigma8 lens is mounted on a NN5 panohead, the swingarm is set in a vertical position and the camera is shifted as close as possible to the upper rotator to get the lens in front of the rotator.
    BTW, when using a normal tripod instead of a high pole I turn the swingarm in an upwards vertical position and then I position the camera as close as possible to the end of the swingarm to gain some height.
    The carton board around the lens is to protect the camera body for overheating by sunlight and to give some protection against rain.

    My Canon cameras are supplied with software to do remote and time controlled shooting with a USB cable, this cable is also supplied with the camera.
    With the EOS Utility software it was easy to shoot the images with an interval of 31 seconds(*), hour after hour.

    With thousands of full size images you get storage problems with a normal memory card so therefore I transfered and stored them on the HD of the computer, this is also done via the USB cable.

    The supplied USB cable is to short for a high pole so I made some extensions cables from old cables (extension cables are also for sale on eBay) and with an old USB hub I could get it working over a distance of approx. 7 meter
    The only problem when doing long timelapses with so many shoots is the camera battery power, when the camera is placed at groundlevel manual replacing of the battery isn't a problem but at more then 7 meter it is so therefore I equiped the camera with a DC power supply insert.

    Some notes about the workflow:
    When the shoot was done I batch processed all images are in Photoshop to remove color fringing, to sharpen the image a little, to make a circular crop and to downsize the images to 700x700px.
    In QuickTime Player I imported and output all images as compressed movies. The height of the default web movie output option is 480px, but the player can export in any size with the other options.
    For the 700x700px movie I chose a custom setup with H264 encoding and a bitrate of 2500.
    I embedded the movies, the images of the setup and the single shot pano in HTML files with Pano2VR and some customized HTML templates.

    Some notes about a future timelapse:
    I am planning to do another timelapse shoot next month around August 13 when a swarm of meteors from our solar system, coming from a position in the neighbourhood of the "Perseids" (**) is crossing the path of the earth and many of those rocks from space will burn up in the atmosphere of the earth.
    See for more info:
    When there are no clouds it is a beautiful sight to see those "falling stars" coming down at an average rate of one per minute and with an exposure time of 20 seconds per shot it will be easy to capture the hot burning tracks in the sky.

    I hope you enjoy the timelapse and I hope it inspires you to do more with your Nodal Ninja panohead and your fisheye lens.
    Keep in mind that you don't need a full frame sensor camera and that you don't need a high pole to make a great timelapse so I hope you will grab your gear, hook it to your computer and start shooting your own fine timelapse movie.
    And don't forget to place it online ;-)



    (*) Due to a small error of the software there is an offset of 1 second between the set and the actual interval, so the set time of 30 seconds produced an interval of 31 seconds.
    Next time I will set the timer to 29 seconds to workaround the small error.
    I was not aware of the offset error until I added the date/time in the images with IrfanView
    (**) Updated the info about the meteor shower

  • #2
    Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

    Hey Wim,
    We appreciate your sharing this thread. It shows people how they can expand there creativity with existing equipment they may already have.
    These TL movies are stunning. Let wish for clear evening skies on your next TL project.


    • #3
      Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

      That is really cool!


      • #4
        Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

        Very cool and a different technique from what we are used to seeing.

        Thanks for sharing
        Today is worth two tomorrows.


        • #5
          Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky


          I added the date and time of the shoot, as stored in the EXIF info of the images, to get a much better feedback, without this info it is hard to see what part of the day is showed in the timelapse.

          For this job I used the free Windows application IrfanView, the app reads the EXIF header and put the data visible as an overlay in the image.
          You can choose whatever EXIF data you want to make visible so it is a really useful application.
          You can download the application and the plugins (don't forget to install the plugins, they are needed) here:

          The application is like a swiss army knife with many tools, here are the 15 steps that worked for me (many thanks to Erik Krause who got me on track):

          1) Choose "Batch Conversion/Rename" from menu File, the window "Batch conversion" appears,
          2) Add your images to the "Input files" field,
          3) Set the path of the output in the field "Output directory for results files",
          4) Toggle on "Use advanced options (for bulk resize...)"
          5) Press "Advanced" button, the window "Set for all images" appears,
          6) Press "Settings" button, the window "Add overlay text to image" appears,
          7) Set the X/Y coordinates and Width and Height of text,
          Press "Choose Font" button, the "Font" window appears,
          9) Set the Font and Color properties,
          10) Press "OK" button,
          11) Press Help button, the window "IrfanView Help" appears,
          12) Copy the date/time placeholder "Date/Time Original" or "Date/Time Digitized" from the EXIF list and paste in text field of window "Add overlay text to image",
          13) Press OK, window "Add overlay text to image" disappears,
          14) Press OK, window "Set for all images" disappears,
          15) Press "Start Batch" button and very quickly all modified images are saved in the folder you have set (step 3),

          Some tips,
          It can be handy to rename the saved files, choose the option "Batch conversion - Rename result files" in the window "Batch conversion" and type a name Pattern, fe. "image_####".
          In the same window you can set the quality of the output with the "Options" button, it is best to set the default compression to a higher number, the movie exported by the QT Player will be heavily compressed so a good source image will help to avoid compression artifacts.
          Don't add all images (step 2) the first time, try out with a few images, probably you want to change the font, color and position of the text, when the output looks fine add all images and give it a full go.



          • #6
            Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

            Hello Bill, Stuman and Rob,

            The timelapse as a flat and not interactive movie is not directly related to panoramas and therefore it is good to get your positive comments.



            • #7
              Re: Pointing your fisheye up to the sky

              Off-forum I got some questions about the settings of the camera and the exposures of the images.
              The camera was set at ISO 200, P mode, manual focus mode for the lens with a fixed and taped distance ring at approx. 0.7m.
              The longest exposure: 20 sec - f3.5
              The shortest exposure: 1/500 sec - f14