Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meteor Shower Time Lapse Fail

So yesterday I decided to try and time lapse the Geminid Meteor Shower. I’ve only time lapsed stars once before so I really wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Here in the Windsor, Ontario area, light pollution is an issue but I was able to find a place where it wasn’t so bad. This place was the Vollmer Complex behind Sandwich Secondary School. When I got there to setup the moon was still setting to the west. The western sky is also where I noticed most of the shooting stars however due to the moon setting, I wasn’t able to point my camera in that direction or none of the shots would have turned out. So I gambled and set up my shot facing southeast. There were plenty of stars in that part of the sky so I was assuming there would also be shooting stars…I was wrong. After reviewing the 630 still images from the shoot, I didn’t see a single shooting star in any of them. This really isn’t a big problem because there were still lots of stars in each photo and that still makes a cool time lapse. However there was another problem - my focus was soft. And here’s why. It was very windy out with gusts up to 50km/hr so I wanted to keep my exposure as short as possible to prevent camera shake due to the wind. To keep my exposure short, I chose 5 seconds, that required me to set my aperture at f/4 at ISO 800. The f/4 is what killed me. You’ll see in the photo below that I was trying to get the soccer nets in focus as well as the stars and f/4 just isn’t enough for that. And I knew this ahead of time so I tried to set my focus on the stars because they’re the main subject, the soccer nets were just secondary. Turns out my focus wasn’t sharp on either. Tonight I’ll be correcting all of these mistakes. The wind isn’t supposed to be as strong so I’ll be able to get away with a longer exposure and a greater f/stop…I’m hoping for f/14 to f/16ish. I’ll also work on the focus issue.
So to sum it up, my time lapse I shot last night will still look pretty cool, however it will not include shooting stars. Hopefully tonight it works out better. Oh, and here’s a still from the shoot last night.

Time Lapse still