You may recall the unique star trail timelapse films done by Gavin Heffernan of Sunchaser Films. The popularity and positive response to the first videos inspired Heffernan to reassemble his crew and make a trip to Death Valley for round two. The desert setting in southern California provided the talented photographer with a playground of endless natural wonder to document. In his latest production, Death Valley Dreamlapse, which you can see below, viewers are invited to indulge in the mystifying star trails, the mysterious sliding rocks, and a coronal mass ejection (CME) that produced a red aurora-like mass in the night sky:
At the time of creating the films, Heffernan didn’t realize what good timing he had, as he was completely unaware that he would be treated to the CME. As he was reviewing his footage the next morning, while still on location, he noticed the red glow in many of the shots and was unsure of what the phenomenon was. The CME is especially noticeable in the image below.
To capture the assortment of imagery found throughout Death Valley Dreamlapse, Heffernan set up with an intervalometer, two Canon EOS 5D MK IIIs,a 24mm/1.4, and a 28mm/1.8 lens. Check out the behind the scenes footage that John Brookins put together to learn more about Sunchaser Films’s time in the desert, right here:
Much of the footage was made using standard timelapse techniques—taking multiple images at a specific time interval and editing them together to create a moving image. The visually stunning star trails are made by repeatedly taking 25-second long exposures of the stars and stacking them together in post using software called StarStax. The stars remain still, but as the earth rotates on its axis, it causes the stars to appear as trails on the long exposure—think of it as light painting with the stars.
“We also tried out some new timelapse techniques, like moonpainting the foreground landscapes (0:53 — 1:20), and also some experiments merging regular timelapse footage with star trails—a technique we’ve been calling starscraping. Star trails shot at 25 second exposures. No special effects used, just the natural rotation of the earth’s axis.”
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