planetMitch note: Dustin’s previous tutorial on timelapse (“How to create an HDR Timelapse“) was a huge draw and still gets plenty of views every day on planet5D – we’re incredibly thrilled to have Dustin premiering his newest tutorial here!

Hello again fellow timelapse nerds.

Probably the most common question, email, Vimeo message, Facebook message, tweet, or Instagram comment I get is one asking me about my star and Milky Way timelapse clips. So, I finally caved and put together an enormous tutorial video that should solve most of the mystery.

Now leave me alone! :)

High ISO night photography can be an unwieldy beast. The noise is unsightly but at least motionless.

High ISO timelapse noise isn’t so kind, creating a grainy mess when put into motion.

And noise is only ONE of the difficulties in creating a solid night timelapse video.

In my tutorial video below I go into most of the obstacles that get in your way when shooting in the dark and tell you some of the solutions that have been learned through hundreds of hours of shooting while you were asleep. Here and here is the proof.

Please use the comment area below to ask me any questions. I will answer them.

Secret Spire - photo by Dustin Farrell
Secret Spire – photo by Dustin Farrell

Timelapse tips

Here are a few things not mentioned in the video that you should pay special attention to when trying to shoot the starry skies.

  • Exposure times over 30 seconds will begin to result in significant star trails. You can mask these trails by shooting with wider lenses. Keep your exposures at 30 seconds or below if you plan on shooting with 24mm or more.
  • You will likely be shooting with a wide aperture so focus is critical. Triple-check your focus.
  • Composition can be difficult in the dark. You must take some test photos first. To frame your shot crank your ISO up as high as it will go and use all of your available aperture. This will allow you shorter exposure times while you search for your frame. Yes, I just saved you several minutes of your life.
  • A hot camera sensor produces more noise. Try to take it easy on your camera while setting up. Sometimes I turn my camera off for a few minutes before I begin the timelapse. A battery powered fan is not a bad idea.
  • Check your histogram. If your levels are buried to the left then you need more exposure. If you have no more exposure, go get a better camera and/or faster lens.
  • Drive AWAY from the city. Duh.
  RELATED: “Getting rid of flicker in timelapse – The Lens Twist Method by Dustin Farrell  

I hope you enjoy the video.

My on-camera part was all shot in Magic Lantern raw on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

I primarily use Adobe After Effects as well as Neat Video plugin.

Tweetable Quote:

  Tweet:   Tweet: “Drive AWAY from the city. Duh.” Just one of the tips from @DustinFarrell in his enormous time-lapse tutorial


A timelapse workshop!

If you are interested in further opportunities for instruction, I am holding my first timelapse workshop this April 26th. Click here for all of the details. Only a few spots remain.

Night Sky Timelapse Tutorial by Dustin Farrell 

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)