Interesting Links, January 29, 2014

Here are links I found interesting on January 29, 2014:

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Photographers

Phoenix times now updated.

SunI’ve just updated my calendar of sunrise and sunset times for the Phoenix area. I’ll be keeping this up-to-date as a published calendar. Subscribe at webcal://ical.me.com/mlanger/Sun.ics. I know you can subscribe with this link using iCal, but I think you can also subscribe with other calendar formats such as Google Calendar.

If you’d prefer to download and import the files, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 are currently available.

If you’re a photographer or pilot, you know how helpful it can be to have this exact information. Every year for the past ten years or so, I’ve been updating iCal with this information so it’s always available on my computers and other electronic devices (think BlackBerry, iPad, etc.).

The last time I offered to create these files for photographers, I had a lot of folks ask for them but no one seemed willing to cough up a little dough for the time it takes me to create the files.

So here’s the deal: If you want sunrise/sunset times for 2011-2015 — that’s FIVE YEARS WORTH — in ics format, you’ll need to use this Paypal link to send me some coffee money. Be sure to include either the GPS coordinates for the place you want sunrise/sunset times for OR the Zip code. I’ll try to get the resulting files to you in e-mail within 72 hours. (Keep in mind that the more coffee you buy me, the more motivated (or caffeinated) I’ll be to send those files quickly.)

And no, I won’t add you to any e-mail list. I have way better things to do with my time than bother strangers who were kind enough to buy me coffee.

Sky Time-Lapse

The latest.

I set this one up on the spur of the moment yesterday afternoon. I happened to look up and see some small, low, wispy clouds moving and shaping themselves in the sky. I had no afternoon plans, so I set up the camera with the snapshot interval set at one shot every 10 seconds.

I let it run for about 3-1/2 hours. During that time, a storm came through, dumping water on the campsite. It was fortunate that I had the camera under the awning and odd that it was pointed away from the storm clouds. The only evidence of rain is some blurriness in a few shots; I wiped it away between exposures.

I assembled the 1700+ images at 15 frames per second. This is the result.

I’m going to repeat this exercise later in the week for a longer period of time with a larger image. Someone on Viddler said it would make a great screen saver; it would be neat to make a movie large enough to fill a screen.

It would also be neat to set this to some kind of new age music.

Quincy Clouds Time-lapse Movies

I draft my old G5 for time-lapse duty.

About two weeks ago, I got the bright idea that it was a complete waste of valuable camera resources to use my Nikon D80 for time-lapse photography when I had an older camera I could use. The other camera is my Canon PowerShot G5, which I bought back in 2003 for aerial photography work.

Buying the camera was a huge deal back then. Digital SLRs, if available back then, were too expensive to be an option. The G5 offered 5.0 megapixel (!) resolution — more than twice the resolution of any other digital camera we had. But it also included features we needed, including manual setting for focus and exposure.

Canon PowerShot G5Looking at the camera today, it’s amazingly big and clunky. But it takes a decent picture — certainly good enough for my time-lapse experiments. And frankly, I was having trouble getting my mind around leaving my Nikon outdoors, unattended, for hours at a time. It could be because the tripod got knocked over once and it was sheer luck that it fell toward a rail that caught it rather than toward the empty concrete behind it. I had no love for the G5; if it broke, well, that’s the way it goes. Ditto if it got stolen. In fact, I’d be more upset about losing my tripod or Pclix than the G5.

Oddly enough, the G5 has a built-in intervalometer — a fact I was unaware of. Unfortunately, the interval must be set in minutes (1 to 60) and it can only take 100 shots at a time. This simply wasn’t going to cut it for my needs. Besides, for some reason I still can’t understand, I can’t get the damn thing to work.

So I bought an optical cable for my Pclix. It arrived right before I left for Washington. I tried it for the first time on Friday.

For the optical cable to work, its end must be taped to the camera. The Pclix maker recommends electrical tape, so that’s what I used. Unfortunately, the heat of the day softened the tape. After about 2-1/2 hours, it shifted out of position. The camera stopped taking pictures. Here’s the result, with most of the beginning edited out (since there was really nothing going on):

Disappointing in so many ways. The sky was just getting interesting when the setup failed. And let’s face it — the view of the golf cart shed isn’t all that enticing.

So I tried again yesterday after recharging the camera’s battery overnight. I fixed up the camera differently and pointed it north instead of west. Same settings: one shot every minute, compiled into a movie at 10 frames per second. To prevent the camera battery from running out, I turned off the camera’s video screen. First shot at 9:13 AM; last shot at 7:33 PM. I left the camera outside all day long — even while I was out doing a helicopter ride. I never would have done that with my Nikon.

The result isn’t bad at all. I’m a little POed at myself for including the wires in the shot and it’s a little weird that some of the larger vehicles that drove by appeared in some shots — like the hay truck near the beginning! Again, I think I could have done better. But the clouds are so awesome in this movie. They build and move and swirl around. So cool. See for yourself:

I’ll keep working on this. Hopefully, I’ll get it right soon.

Sunrise Time-Lapse with a Bonus

I swear I’ll stop posting these. One day. Soon, maybe.

Nice colors and a bonus feature near the end.

The clouds were set up in the northeastern sky for an interesting sunrise when I woke up before dawn (again) this morning. So I set up my camera to record a time-lapse of the sunrise on the clouds. Settings: 1 shot every 10 seconds, made into a movie at 15 frames per second.

Caught an unexpected feature near the end.