Aurora in Time lapse

Aurora in Time lapse

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Aurora in timelapse

Now is the season of Northern lights in Iceland and tourists are coming to Iceland to see, enjoy and photograph them. Time lapse photography is a great way of catching those great, vivid, dancing colours dancing on the sky above us. Here I will tell you a little bit how I am preparing and doing my time-lapse clips.

Shooting timelapse can be tricky and there are few things you need to think about when you are setting up for time-lapse photography, choosing location and post processing the files afterwards.

Preview from time-lapse movie "Magical Sky - Iceland", shots from seaside of Iceland.

First it is the equipment. You need to have good camera for low light that can shoot at iso at 1600 - 3200 without getting to grainy, bring extra battery. Bright and wide lens is also important and you need to be able to set the lens to manual. You can't be without steady tripod because you are shooting constantly long exposure for some time, it can vary from 30 min to several hours. An electronic remote control is necessary to prevent vibrating the camera when pressing the shutter.  Make sure you carry spare batteries in an inside pocket since the cold can sap their strength.

Clothes are very important, be well dressed because you need to stand out in the cold weather for long time. You don't need to stand by the camera the whole time, but you need to check every now and then if everything is ok. The strength of the northern lights can change very quickly and you need be aware of that, it is not good to change settings in the middle of timelapse session - that can be tricky. You also need to stop the session once in a while to see if the lens is ok, different weather conditions can affect the lens so you maybe need wipe of the lens some mist. 

Preview from the time-lapse movie "Magical Sky - Iceland". Shots from the south coastline of Iceland, waterfall Seljalandsfoss, plane wreck at Sólheimasandur and waterfall Skógafoss.

Another thing and very important is the location. I want to take time-lapse pictures where I have something interesting in the foreground. That can be difficult because there are a lot of cars and people out there in the night using strong lights. You can't do any thing about the cars except try to choose a location far from the road of parking place - in some cases I clean up the car lights afterwards in PS. It is important when you are at a well know location and there are other people there taking pictures that you respect others. That's not always the case and in many cases I have had to ask people to turn off there strong headlights because it is ruining my shots - same with the car lights, I sometimes clean up the headlights from other people in the post process in PS.

The majestic and beautiful surrounding of the mountain Kirkjufell at Snæfellsnes. Northern light reflection in the lake at a still night, last August.

The preview from Kirkjufell is a good example of hours spent in post processing in PS. There is a parking place infront of the mountain and this is a very well known photo location and popular to visit. This night was busy, a lot of traffic with strong lights. I cleaned up 450 picture that are showing in this clip, took out all light pollution.

I use Photoshop and Lightroom in post processing the files, first I work on the whole group of files that I want to use as a clip from one photo session. I correct the pictures, add some contrast and little vibrance, decrease shadows and highlights if necessary. I save the files as photoshop file so I don't lose any quality. Then I look at those files that need special care, were I need to clean out light pollution from cars and people. This part can take some time. After that I open all the files in Lightroom only to export them again to one folder as tiff files in sequence in the size 1920x1080 pix. The movie part I do in Premiere.

Preview from the time-lapse movie "Magical Sky - Iceland". Shots from two abandoned farms in the west part of Iceland.

I hope that you like the article, I am probable forgetting something - just as away. Those time-lapse previews are a part of a movie in progress, it will be published later this winter along with a photo book.

If you are coming to Iceland and need a photo guide you can contact me if you want.


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