You never stop learning. Including Intervalometers and Mike Oldfield.

There is one thing about this writing caper that never ceases to amaze me. But before I continue down that line, let me, as is my wont, describe something I saw many, many years ago.

My memory of this was triggered by a news story this morning on ABC 24.  Apparently original photographic prints from NASA taken on the Apollo missions sold for monster amounts of money.

As I recall, these shots were all taken on Hasselblad cameras (including that famous one of the very first Earthrise and all the shots of the astronauts kangaroo-ing around on the lunar surface).

Anyway, one of the best visuals I have ever seen was at the now demolished Perth Entertainment Centre using a huge bank of slide projectors to show on a big screen a 20 minute (or so) sequence of slides from the Apollo 11 landing. It included shots from inside the lunar nodule of the landing sequence as well as the Earthrise image all set to music from Mike Oldfield (the Exposed album which is one of my favourites).

And it was mesmerising.

Remember, this was a bunch of slide transparencies (hi-res stills if you are under 30), not video, but the effect of it will stay with me forever. It showed me the power of the still image, especially when married with the right music.

The producer Ken Burns also discovered what can be done with a static image with his iconic Ken Burns effect of slow panning across a still.

So back to what never ceases to amaze me, and it is connected.

It is the fact we never stop learning. Staying on the astronomical theme, many are aware I am playing with an MSM Star Tracker and various cameras (Canon EIS RP and Fuji GFX50SII) along with my own Canon 5DS.

In the shots I have taken so far (not worthy of displaying at this point I hasten to add) one of the annoying things is the time taken to get the sequences you need.

To explain to those who have no idea of this branch of photography, those gorgeous high-resolution shots you see of galaxies such as Orion or the Horsehead Nebula are generally not a single shot. Instead they are “stacked” photographs – using 60 is not unheard of – of the same subject along with what are known as “darks” and “lights”. A technical explanation in depth is here.

Specialist software is then used to analyse all these photos and merge them into a single composite image. I am using Deep Sky Stacker for my attempts.

Each individual frame can be 30 seconds or even a minute of exposure and as you can imagine, sitting out there pressing the shutter for sixty shots (plus darks and lights) and also waiting for 30 seconds or more before the next is tedious and boring.

There had to be a way of somehow automating this process I perceived.

I did some digging and on Amazon found this gizmo, called an Intervalometer.

Requesting in the MSM Facebook group if anyone had bought one and used it, I was asked what camera I was using. When I told them a Canon 5DS, I was told in no uncertain terms to have a quick read of my owner’s manual as the 5DS among many other makes had models had this function built in!

Now in all my years I had never seen the term “Intervalometer” – that is not to say it didn’t exist, just that I wasn’t familiar with it.

But I DID understand “time lapse”.


It just for some reason, had not even occurred to me.

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