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Thursday, January 17, 2013

True Teamwork

Advice To The PhotoLorn • Going Beyond 1X • Power To The Time-Lapse • Going Really Long

Labels: ColumnTech Tips
Power To The Time-Lapse

Q While trying to create a time-lapse of a flower that was going to bloom, I ran into the problem of inadequate power. The lithium-ion battery lasted about four hours, and the AA batteries in the flash didn't even last that long. What can I get to provide power to the camera when photographing a time-lapse that will take awhile?
P. Roullard
San Diego, Calif.

A There are a lot of different time-lapse scenarios, from the controlled studio environment to a remote mountaintop or African plain. If you're completely away from any power source, you'll need to monitor your camera and change batteries as needed. If you can't monitor the camera (as in nighttime on the African plain), you'll need to extend the sequence with a battery pack such as a Quantum (www.qtm.com), which has cables to run either cameras or flashes—or both at the same time. If you're careful with the output voltage, you can make your own systems using deep-charge batteries purchased from BatteriesPlus (www.batteriesplus.com) and numerous outlets on the Internet. Again, make sure you have the right voltage and amperes so as not to destroy the camera or flash electronics.

If I'm making a time-lapse close to where I can park my truck, the vehicle's electrical system makes a great battery pack when used with an inverter and AC inserts that are available from the camera manufacturer. I run an extension cord from the inverter and plug into that.

When I create flower time-lapse sequences in the studio over a long period of time (sometimes several days and nights), the camera or cameras can be powered from an outlet. For light-
ing, I've used LED lights on clamps (originally designed as reading lamps). They're inexpensive, stay cool, last a long time, give a reasonable amount of light, and the color temperature is close to daylight and can be tweaked in your image-processing software. Lightroom 4 works great.

Going Really Long
Let's say that you're photographing on a sunny day along the ocean shore and want a really long exposure to render the water and waves with a foggy surface. One option is to reduce the available light by adding a polarizer or neutral-density filter to the lens, but typically these won't drop the exposure by the needed four or more stops. I've talked on numerous occasions in this column about variable ND filters. I use the Singh-Ray Vari-ND (www.singh-ray.com), a rotating ND filter that has two high-quality polarizing filters offering a range of 2 to 8 stops of light suppression. Now Singh-Ray has added a new accessory for the Vari-ND in a 5-stop or 10-stop additional ND filter (Mor-Slo) that fits on the front of the Vari-ND. The combinations give you 13 or 18 stops of neutral density to work with! The Mor-Slo filters also can be used on their own and come in 77mm and 82mm sizes, as well as squares for Lee and Cokin filter holders.

Keep in mind that thick (dual polarizer ND) filters shouldn't be used on telephoto lenses as they affect the focus. Use a single thin ND filter like the Mor-Slo alone on lenses beyond 200mm for best sharpness.

Follow George Lepp's exploits, see his latest photographs and be part of the discussion on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/georgelepp. And Lepp is now a part of the OP Blog on our website, www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/author/glepp.

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