Two sunsets

Last week there were some spectacular sunsets around Puget Sound caused by smoke drifting south from forest fires in British Columbia. I seized the opportunity to try out some timelapse shots. I got out my Nikon 300mm f/4, put a 1.4 teleconverter, and with a fotodiox adapter, mounted it on my Canon T2i. Here’s the results from two subsequent days, following two different approaches:

The first shot was made at 1080p, 24p and speeded up 600 percent in Final Cut. The second was shot the following evening, when the smoke had mostly cleared (notice how much less red there is). For this one, I shot stills, at the rate of a frame every second, and later assembled them for editing with Quicktime following these instructions from Phillip Bloom, who is a real timelapse junkie.

The nice thing about the second approach is that the much higher resolution of the image allows you to crop in and increase the magnification without losing quality. Because there was a lot less filtration of the sun on the second day, the sun is much brighter, though, and that definitely detracts from the magic of the first day.

If you look very closely to the first shot, you can pick out two sunspots that are hardly larger than specks.

For doing timelapse with the Canon T2i, you need an electronic interval timer. The official Canon part for this is listed as “temporarily unavailable” at B&H, so I picked up a really inexpensive one on Ebay, the Aputure AP-TR1C, for about $40. It worked great, once I replaced the old hearing aid-type battery it ships with which died within 15 minutes of use.

Interesting to note: the photo was taken facing due west (of course), and if you look closely, you can see how far the sun is moving south in a single day. In the first photo, its trajectory takes it north of the big tree – in the second it’s path intersects the tree, setting enough further south that we lost we lost 3 minutes of daylight from the previous day.

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