“Keep Looking Up” night sky timelapse


Introduction

Hello dear NikonRumors readers!

My name is Christophe Anagnostopoulos and I’ve been reading Nikon Rumors everyday for a long time now!

I’m very happy to present you my first personal night sky time-lapse project named “Keep Looking Up” which I filmed for over a year using mainly Nikon cameras and lenses.

I began filming on May 2016 until September 2017 with a lot of effort, as my main job at that period was demanding in terms of time and I only had one or two days per month to film. So I had to plan everything in detail before even leaving home, so as to make the best use of the time I had in my disposal:

Locations

The filming locations were some of the darkest places in Greece and chosen carefully as I tried to split the sceneries between mountain and sea locations.

One of the most beautiful location and also one of the darkest, not only in Greece but also in Europe, and for me by far the best one to view the night sky, was the top of Helmos mountain where the big telescope “Aristarchos” is located. A difficult to approach location located at an altitude of 2460 meters, with constantly changing weather conditions, from clear skies to wall-thick fog in only a few minutes, but when the weather is clear, the stars and the Milky Way Galaxy core are shining with all their glory!

Scouting and planning of the filming locations was done from my office using tools like Google Earth and Stellarium, although for some tricky scenes I used Photopills to accurately achieve the result I wanted.

For the last scene of the film, the night to day sequence, which I filmed for more than 5 hours at the snowy peak of Panachaiko mountain at an altitude of 1700 meters and a temperature of -3C, I also used the QDSLRDashboard application on my tablet to be able to change the exposure levels as needed while transitioning from the clear night sky to the shiny sunrise at the end of the scene.

Gear

The main camera I used for the project was a Nikon D800. Actually I had two of them along with a Nikon D750.  I still use the D800 with great results, despite being “old” and even after buying the amazing Nikon D850 which now is my workhorse for astro and landscape photography.

The main wide angle lens used most on the project was the Nikon 20mm F1.8G, which for me is an amazing lens for astrophotography.  The focal length of 20mm is in my opinion the best for this type of photography, being as wide as must be, and with the big aperture this lens can capture more light while not blowing the ISO levels very high, because the old but trusty D800 becomes very noisy even from ISO 1600. It is also very light and portable, and one other great feature is that it takes 77mm filters, like the Hoya RA54 Red Enhancer filter , which I used for all my scenes to decrease light pollution levels.

The second main lens I used was the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art which also is a great, although the coma it produces in the corners is very visible when using it wide open. Still provides a very pleasing perspective on nightscapes and especially when capturing the Milky Way core, as it seems “bigger” to the viewer.

Other camera gear I used was two Sony cameras (A7s and A7R2) and lenses like the Tokina Firin 20mm, Nikon 24mm F1.8G, Sony 28mm, Canon 55mm F1.2 and Nikon 85mm F1.8G.

For motion control I used the Syrp Genie 3-axis system and a lot of sturdy tripods to support the  system. In some cases I also used a star tracker, the Vixen Polarie, and to fight the gathering of moisture in the front element of the lenses, I used dew heaters from Vixen.

Ending Thoughts

I’m not perfect and some things were out of my control, for example the weather conditions, which had as a result a lot of scenes to be lost especially in the beginning.

Of course I also made mistakes but I tried hard and I enjoyed the whole journey, and the most important, I Kept Looking Up !

Awards

- Winner Best Experimental/Travel/Timelapse Short Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards
- Winner Best Nature/Travel European Cinematography Awards
- Award of Recognition Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival
- Official Selection Pickurflick Indie Festival
- Official Selection Holywood International Independent Documentary Awards
- Official Selection Oniros Film Awards

- Official Selection Cefalu Film Festival

About the Author

Christophe Anagnostopoulos, a Global Ambassador of Tokina and Hoya, is a photographer based in Antiparos, a small island in the Aegean Sea, Greece.

You can see more of his work in the links below:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Vimeo | Flickr | Twitter | Google+ 

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • Eric Calabros

    With these posts, Peter is trying to convince us to buy 20mm f/1.8
    Ok, I promise I will buy it.. but when the Z mount edition released 🙂

    • RIT

      Its a great lens.

    • T.I.M

      I bought it, one year ago, never use it yet, it’s made in China, made my wife happy.
      (I love my 24mm PC-E)

      • I suspect you don’t do much deep sky astro? It’s a hard to beat lens for this purpose, and admittedly quite niche.

    • I made the company I was working for buy one and I used it once and then never again, feel really foolish could have gotten a good free test rental. It will likely never be used ever again by anyone else, they will say “what is this, we already have an 18-200mm zoom, don’t use that”

  • Max

    Nice watch!

  • HD10

    Beautiful … thank you for sharing!

    On another note … so many aircraft crisscrossing the sky.

  • Nikkor300f4VR

    First class work!

  • RIT

    Thankyou for sharing. Epic!

  • RIT

    I use a Red Enhancing (sodium cut) filter and you’re the first person I’ve heard of that uses one as well! It’s superb on the 20mm f/1.8G which has an enlarged filter thread at 77mm. Barely use my bulky 14-24 now The Sigma35 you’ve got is another proudly held and beautiful piece of glass. I must get out there and do some more nocturnal timelapse!

    • An amazing piece of art work Christophe! This is the first time I hear of a Red Enhancing filter for night time photography (okay, I honestly almost never shoot at night). I’ll give it a try some day!

      Thanks for the tip to both of you Christophe and RIT 🙂

      • On second thought. I have been looking in to these filters and wonder: maybe a stupid question, but i see predominantly a change in white balance. Does the filter really do more than that? It seems like you can achieve a lot of it in post processing?

  • Joe Koytch

    Very Nice Video. Lot of air traffic.

  • Proto

    Wow. Epic! Are those shooting stars or Delta flying in night sky?

    • T.I.M

      both, but shooting stars don’t change course.

    • TurtleCat

      From what I saw it was planes and iridium flares/satellites.

      • Proto

        Had to look up that term ” iridium flare” — also known as satellite glint, the visible phenomenon caused by the reflective surfaces of passing satellites

        • TurtleCat

          After a few years hanging out on Cloudy Nights, I’ve learned a great deal. 🙂

  • T.I.M

    TIP OF THE DAY:
    The Nikon TC-14E III teleconverter (supposed to work only with G mount lenses) can be use with aperture ring lenses (like my new AF-s 500mm f/4 IF-ED).
    Here is how:
    – in the camera menu, select: aperture set with the ring, not with the dial.
    – set the camera in M or A mode, and use the aperture ring.
    Et voila!

  • TurtleCat

    Very nice! Those neodymium filters are pretty nice to cut down light pollution but sadly it’s only able to cut very little. When I see this I admire the difficulty and effort but as someone who likes dark skies I am discouraged by the spread of light pollution and that it gets worse every year.

  • A. F.O.

    Great job! 🙂
    I was convinced that the Sigma 1.4 was better for astro then the 20mm Nikkor…is it not?

  • Hans J

    Christopher you are Amazingly talented!! Wow that was really incredible.

  • Clever use of the technology and nicely done. Some of the nebulae and clusters were a little blown out. Did you find some sensors able to hold the highlights better than others? Only suggestion would be to shorten it to two minutes +/-. I think it would have a bit more impact. Just MHO.

  • a5m

    Wow. Great production. Editing was on point.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Richard Hart

    It’s nice to see. I feel like I have seen better astro timelapse. This is a pretty hefty collection and is impressive. If it could be produced with a narrative, it would be much more engaging. Perhaps a statement about light pollution or a story about the stars etc. Think about the planetarium at Griffith observatory.

    • Just Me

      While I agree that light pollution sucks, I find “preachy” documentaries annoying, even when I agree with the message.

  • Kurt Lercher

    very nice good job thx

  • TheMeckMan

    Great video. Makes me want to go to Greece again. My last visit there was superb. Beautiful people, culture, and country. So sad how things are going on there between the collapse and now an EU that fails to lift a finger to aid the refugees in a country with barely enough to feed its own poor. Sending positive thoughts from Huntsville, Alabama. Αγαπώ το τενια σας!

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