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Aaron Priest's picture

Hunter's Beach, a 360° spherical panoramic timelapse with exposure ramping from sunset to Milky Way to sunrise!

June 6, 2015

For a little over a decade now I’ve been working towards a goal of shooting a 360° timelapse over a 24hr time period with a single camera. This is almost 9hrs of spherical panoramas, from 08:04 PM on May 20, 2015 to 04:51 AM on the 21st, of the Milky Way rising over Hunter’s Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine. I used a Nikon D810, shaved Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye (forced to FX format), Panoneed robotic panning head, Ramper Pro, Goal Zero Sherpa 100, and Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod, clamps, nodal slide, and camera L bracket. I took 832 photos until the Sherpa 100 battery was exhausted. The RAW files were converted to 16-bit TIFFs via Lightroom and LRTimelapse (www.aaronpriestphoto.com/lrtimelapse), and then stitched into 208 spherical panoramas via PTGui’s batch feature. At 30fps it makes an almost 7 second video. The Panoneed’s .xml positioning files makes alignment and stitching each panorama very accurate. The original panoramic frames are 10712 x 5356, for a 10K video.

I animated the spherical panoramas as a 3D environment layer in After Effects with a virtual camera. Another thing I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time is to animate a transition between stereographic projection (little planet) to rectilinear (normal) view. This is the shot that looks like a fisheye of the full sky and unwraps itself to a normal view of the Milky Way over the ocean. To do this I used the Sub Blue Little Planet plugin here: http://2008.sub.blue/blog/2010/6/17/little_planets.html However, it relies on the Pixel Bender Toolkit which Adobe discontinued after CS5 in 2010. Recently, I discovered some developers created a new Pixel Bender Kernel Accelerator that runs on your GPU or video card and allows pixel bender kernels to work in newer versions of After Effects! http://aescripts.com/pixel-bender-accelerator/

While the Nikon D810 was shooting, I wandered around with my Nikon D700 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 shooting some shorter timelapses and some stills. Mike & Shelley Lawie stopped by for much of the night and we had a great time shooting star trails and the Milky Way. The short timelapse of comet trails over Hunter’s Brook was taken from 8:17 – 10:02 PM, shortly before the beginning of nautical twilight when stars were just becoming visible and the sky was still blue, until the end of astronomic twilight. I ramped the exposure with the holy grail feature of DslrDashboard and edited the 136 photos with LRTimelapse & Lightroom. To animate the comet trails I used intermediate frames from Advanced Stacker Plus, a Photoshop plugin, and rendered them into a timelapse with After Effects.

All of the video was taken with my iPhone 6. The backpack is an f-stop Satori EXP with an XL Pro ICU and two large lens barrels on the sides. It easily holds everything!

I gotta thank PhotoPills for all the planning that went into this shot, from the physical location to catch the Milky Way over the cliff, to the dates/times of civil, nautical, and astronomic dawn/dusk for programming the Ramper Pro. It's an amazing program that makes my life so much easier! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photopills/id596026805?mt=8&uo=4&at=11lL...

My next workshop is on night timelapses, coming up in a couple weeks in Acadia from June 21 to 25, 2015, with Acadia Images Photography Workshops. There are still two spots available. Visit their website for more details: http://acadiaimages.com/

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