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Monday, 19 December 2016

Looking away from the sunset - a timelapse video

RSPB Rainham Marshes' location on the north bank of the River Thames, and the elevated 1st floor and picture windows of its Visitor Centre, offers great opportunities to see some spectacular winter sunsets.

When I'm thinking about locations, dates and times to take landscape photos, I often look at The Photographer's Ephemeris. This is an Android or IOS app, and is also available on the web. It shows the direction and elevation of the sun and moon at any date and time at any location in the world overlayed on a satellite view of the location.

Here is the TPE web app showing the south-eastern end of Rainham Marshes with a location pin dropped on the river wall. It shows the angles towards the sun and moon in the late afternoon of Sunday 11th December 2016.

In this view, looking at the angles of the sunset (orange) and the moon (dark blue) and the location and angle relative to the picture window of the Visitor Centre, I found the opportunity that I was looking for - to shoot towards the Centre (away from the sunset) seeing the sun setting reflected in the windows and the full moon rising over the building! (when the moon is opposite the sun in the sky, we see the whole of the illuminated side, so the moon will be pretty nearly full)
So, when December 11th proved to be clear and sunny, (and the forecasts for the following days were for cloud) I headed off to Rainham Marshes in good time to set up and start shooting - 15 minutes before moonrise and an hour-and-a-half before sunset.

I set the camera to take one image per second, and it ran from 2:24pm until 4:03pm - 5973 images.

Processing took a few days:
  1. import the images into Lightroom and adjust the exposure and other lighting settings
  2. export them all to jpeg format
  3. import the jpegs into Photoshop as an image sequence
  4. crop the frame to full-HD, and create the pan and zoom motion
  5. find some royalty-free music for the soundtrack
  6. render the video out to the final file
Here's the video - I hope you like it.

While the timelapse was shooting, I also took this panorama of the sunset - it really was spectacular.

Postscript: Having to choose the day with clear skies the angles weren't quite perfect, and as the sequence went on there was a little cloud low to the east (behind the building in the video). This meant that the I didn't see the moon rise to the left of the building as I had hoped, but in fact the reveal of the moon out of the clouds towards the end may actually be better.