I went north on the Blue Ridge parkway to Craggy Gardens visitors center (about 18 miles north of the Folk Art center), thinking to get a milky way shot.
Nope! Moon is waxing, and almost full, meaning there was too much light to get the milky way effectively. Should I have checked the moon app? Yes, but really, I just needed to get out on a comfortable, dry evening.
Since the humidity was low (about 55%), we didn’t get fogged in, so I decided to do a time-lapse. I’m still working on getting the settings so I have the effect I want, but the only way to learn is practice, practice, practice! I did a few set-up shots, then I turned on the intervalometer and let ‘er rip. I hastily archived the pictures and made a time lapse. There is a lot I have to learn yet, but I uploaded it to Facebook. Today, I’m getting ready to upload more images, and I realized I never checked my prep shots.
So, here is a total accident: I caught a meteor during prep shots, and I hit a better exposure for the night sky for my setup. First, the meteor:
Next, the settings (which I SHOULD have used for the time lapse): Sigma 10-20 on a crop sensor, so 16mm effective. f/3.5, ISO 800 for 8 seconds (aperture priority figured this out… did I listen…noooooo). This was about 30 minutes after sunset, so the lighting is accurate.
Then, I switched to manual mode, and mis-transcribed the settings. I ran at f/8 ISO 400 for 20 seconds. My thinking was to make a longer exposure, but I went too far:
- The rule of 500 says 500/16=31.25 seconds should be the longest exposure. I disagree… even at 20 seconds, there was motion blur on the stars. I should have stayed with the 8 second exposure (or maybe 10).
- My camera was in the parking area, so as cars came past, their headlights got caught in the trees, leading to ‘flashes’ in the time lapse. Just moving to the sidewalk and aiming over the trees would have been better.
- This is a west-of-northwest shot, so I could have ground as a reference point. Because the moon was in play, I think I should have shot more north. I would have lost the ground to some clouds, but I could have gotten some faster, circular motion around polaris, instead of what I did get.
- Understand that these are nit-picks. I’m happy with getting a timelapse that works, but I’m always looking for ways to make them better.
Here is the facebook copy (trying to save bandwidth on my server):