Another time-lapse landscape video from Christoph Malin

Do you remember the guest post on Time-lapse Landscape Astrophotography from Christoph Malin? He just sent me his latest video. Enjoy:

Teaser: "The Island" - La Palma Time Lapse Video from Christoph Malin on Vimeo.

Now on National Geographic/ thanks to NG, awesome!

Imagine the world's largest volcanic erosion crater. Then imagine an island with an incredible area to height ratio: low area of 708 square km and the 12 km wide "caldera de taburiente" with it's 2445 m high roque de los muchachos peak... or the near 2000 m high Deseada volcanic twin peaks on the ruta de los Volcanes... Combine that with beautiful starry skies - and you have La Palma (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Palma).

My new TimeLapse project "The Island" is dedicated to this beautiful and lovely Island of the Canaries... Note: this is my second TL project, the first one - "Black Hole Sun" - was reviewed nicely on NAT GEO daily news.

"The Island" was filmed by me alone during the first week of August 2011, less than 10 hrs sleep the whole week!

Making-of images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vertrider/sets/72157627278118235/with/6029262243/

About the project:

I have been to Palma many times for mountain biking and hiking in the past and have written some travel articles about the Island which hosts a spanish national park ("Caldera de Taburiente") and a UNESCO biosphere reservate ("Los Tildos Rainforest". It is a little paradise by itself - for nature lovers and hikers with a faible for dramatic landscapes and climatic zones, that change on every meter of ascent / descent.

I always tried to cover the beauty of it's incredible landscape and endemic nature at day and night with still images - a TimeLapse showing it's celestial beauties matched to the dramatic volcanic landscapes was always a dream, that was slowly getting real, after I had finished "Black Hole Sun" and gained knowledge about landscape TimeLapse photography. As a member of the Instructor team of the Austrian Summit Club and Landscape photographer I love to be outdoors in the Mountains anyway at all times. So this project was always welcome!

La Palma has not only beautiful day landscapes to offer, it is one of the top six places on Earth to view the Night skies and hosts the worlds largest single aperture optical telescope (GTC - grantecan, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roque_de_los_Muchachos_Observatory).

Now during a week of new moon I was finally able to cover most of the scenery I had in mind in TimeLapse technique.

About the production: Astrolandscape TimeLapse is equipment intensive. It was one of the most intense experiences ever in regards of

  • carrying around the equipment on the volcanic mountains...
  • 4 Nikon DLSR (1 x D3s, D700, 2 x D7000)
  • 6 Nikon Pro Lenses (10/2.8 DX, 2 x 14-24/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 50/1.4, 24/1.4)
  • up to 5 Manfrotto/Tripods
  • Stage Zero Dynamic Perception Dolly
  • Orion Astronomic Head
  • AstroTrac TT320X-AG
  • Rechargeable Batteries, Batteries, Batteries
  • VauDe Mountaineering Equipment
  • Water / Food / iPad with astronomical software*
  • RedBull, RedBull, RedBull
  • MacBook Pro**

... but it also has been some of the best times enjoying one of the most dramatic landscapes imaginable in all it's beauty, including unforgettable sunsets, moonsets and sunrises, countless meteor streak sightings (I stopped counting after about 50...) and an eternal Milky Way amazingly glowing from the starry night sky.

Other than in Central Europe (see my other project "Black Hole Sun") on La Palma's Mountains and in the south, one can truly differentiate the Milky Ways dark dust regions just by eye - no camera needed. It is an incredible view, I tried to capture the best I can. Under these starry skies, and this incredible, eternal glowing band of our galaxy, one can feel the time - directly and pure. It is furthemore a totally silent landscape, dark and mysterious. Only noises from time to time are from the wind touching the big century old pine trees making for a very own orchestral sound.

I am for sure not the most religious person, but if you experience this remarkable landscape and the glowing skies above, there is to say that God had a good day when he created La Palma.

But Nature on La Palma can be harsh and dangerous too: it showed it's strengths more than once with strong to severe winds (up to appr. 70 km/h) on the volcanic ridges. While I of course know that staying on the Cumbre Vieja or the Roque at stormy winds is not the best idea - if there is clear sky and you have to take footage on your planned timed/locations, you have to cope with it, no workaround.

This made it partly quite tough to film - add to that the nights alone in darkness with boosting winds. I could only use the tent twice and on the other days had to seek shelter behind rocks. And La Palma's mountains are really DARK, with only the starry sky above. While I am used to stay out alone on the mountains to capture night skies for Astronomic landscape images, winds - especially as strong as these that hit La Palma's volcanic ridges - make filming all night physically demanding and tiring. The cameras and lenses (as well as me) got their share of dust and sand, being low on the ground. Only in the morning the winds would get weaker - finally, this was always a relief.

BTW: What would a trip like this be without the obligatory equipment and man failures ;): unexpected battery drains, astronomic Merlin/Orion head failures due to faulty interface cable, cameras getting thrown over by wind boosts etc. Photographer stumbling around in the dark, hitting rocks, nearly falling over roots (I avoided using my headlight due to cameras taking footage), scratching hands, knees on ultra sharp volcanic rocks, always trying not to fall into a crater by stumbling over tent ropes or getting hit by a wind boost etc. in the meantime some camera or dolly batteries would fail, footage needed to be repeated, settings adjusted. ah, you just wanted to sleep a bit? forget it, sleeping delayed to a indefinite "later", and that repeated for the whole week!

Sometimes one then reaches a moment of exhaustion and frustration about equipment (Nikon Cameras and it's every changing button designs from Model to Model are appareantly not designed for use in darkness, and the Orion Head is a challenge by itself) where you just would like to throw the whole stuff into a dark crater, have it burned by fresh lava (having fun watching), forget about everything and go sleep for a week. Not an option - so back to work!

Dust on the DSLR chips from sandstorms on the volcanoes was also a big problem present all week - I could never go over f5.6, otherwise dust particles visible on the chips would ruin the shots (as it did, when I once decided to try program mode and ISO auto, and the D7000 ramped up f-stop on sunrise instead of lowering ISO).

External power supplies are a story on it's own - DSLR chips burn amps on long exposures, and more than 6000 images in a night only do the rest.

If you know about reliable, lightweight external power supplies for Nikon Cameras and 12V gear in general, please contact me.

About taking footage on the Caldera and Roque de los Muchachos: be aware that for taking footage on south/west areas of Roque de los Muchachos you need a permit by the IAC (http://www.iac.es/eno.php?op1=2&op2=420&op3=57〈=en), which is controlled by staff at any times. This is on the one hand for not disturbing observatory work (with lights), on the other hand for safety issues. In any case it is advised to never point your dimmed red light to the sky, in direction of the telescopes etc. use a headlamp with a dedicated red light like this one http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/lighting/storm-headlamp. for other parts of the roque/caldera stay safe and behave accordingly to national park staff and rules which can be informed about at the caldera de taburiente visitor center near el paso.

Finally a word about the Night skies: Clear and dark night skies as the ones on La Palma are getting rare in this highly light polluted century... To help preserving a clear night sky to future generations (and save on energy waste) please therefore support and join the UNESCO year of the astronomy 2009 special program http://www.twanight.org as well as http://astronomerswithoutborders.com and http://www.darksky.org.

I am an instructor and advisor of the Austrian Summit Club (http://www.alpenverein.at). Please support your local Summit Club section.

Finally, I am truly rewarded by cutting the first output that formed into a nice little teaser, and hope you like it too! More to come..., will be there for a second session a.s.a.p - I can never get enough of this beautiful Island.

The great song for this video comes from Epic Soul Factory, "Titan", found on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/epic-soul-factory/titan

Now enjoy,
Christoph Malin
Christophmalin.com
AUSTRIA

*i use the following astronomic apps on iPad: "RedShift", "StarWalk" and "pUniverse HD" as well as "Stellarium" on my MacBookPro

**used to pre render lots of the footage in between and checking first outputs at each production stage as well as serving as a image tank

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