Tak­ing a TIME-LAPSE

Cap­ture the dy­namic move­ment of the night sky

Sky at Night Magazine - - SMARTPHONE ASTROPHOTO­GRAPHY -

By tak­ing a se­ries of pho­tos at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals over a pe­riod of 10 min­utes or more you can make the 0RRQ V PRWLRQ DFURVV WKH VN\ D VXQULVH RU FRORXUIXO clouds at sun­set look re­ally dra­matic. It’s easy with D VPDUWSKRQH )LUVW PRXQW LW VHFXUHO\ DQG HQDEOH WKH re­mote shut­ter re­lease. Make sure you have plenty of spare stor­age ca­pac­ity on your phone – videos can EH DQ\ZKHUH IURP 0% WR 0% LQ VL]H WKHQ LW V D FDVH RI IRFXVLQJ RQ WKH EULJKW WDUJHW

&RQVLGHU LQFOXGLQJ D EULJKW KRUL]RQ LQ WKH IUDPH WR KHOS \RX KHUH DQG VLQFH LW V VWDWLF LW OO HPSKDVLVH DQ\ PRYHPHQW LQ WKH VN\ EH\RQG WRR %HIRUH OPLQJ EH sure to fo­cus on the Moon and put your cam­era app into AE (auto-ex­po­sure) lock mode to stop it com­pen­sat­ing for changes in light. The iPhone and sev­eral An­droid phones have a time-lapse mode in their stan­dard cam­era app. If your cam­era phone GRHVQ W KDYH RQH FRQVLGHU DSSV OLNH /DSVH ,W IUHH L26 DQG $QGURLG RU 7LPHODSVH 3UR IUHH :LQGRZV 3KRQH

Start shoot­ing

your head­phones and then use the vol­ume con­trol on their cord as a re­mote shut­ter re­lease. When you’re ready to shoot, a ZLGH HOG VKRW RI D EULJKW REMHFW such as Mars, Jupiter or the Moon above the hori­zon is a great sub­ject with which to start.

Even so, fo­cus­ing on what ap­pears to the cam­era as a bright dot can be chal­leng­ing. That’s where the hori­zon comes in: hav­ing it in the shot gives your smart­phone some­thing dis­tant to fo­cus on – more so if there are some lit re­gions on the ground. The cam­era’s auto func­tions may pick up the night sky tar­gets; if not, in­stall an app that gives you man­ual con­trol such as Night Cam! (iOS; £1.49) or Open Cam­era (An­droid; free).

Shoot­ing con­stel­la­tions re­ally pushes the lim­its of a smart­phone’s small-aper­ture cam­era – they can lack the bright­ness to reg­is­ter prop­erly. With your phone se­curely PRXQWHG \RX OO QG IRFXVLQJ RQ con­stel­la­tions is even more of a chal­lenge, so an app with man­ual cam­era con­trol like NightCap Cam­era (iOS; £1.99) or Cam­era FV-5 (An­droid; £2.49) is even more cru­cial. You’ll also need to in­crease the sen­si­tiv­ity of the cam­era: aim for as high an ISO as pos­si­ble and use an ex­po­sure that’s one sec­ond or more in length. Start with one of the brighter, more recog­nis­able con­stel­la­tions – Orion in win­ter, Cygnus in sum­mer, Leo in spring, Tau­rus in au­tumn – and if the UHVXOWLQJ VKRWV ORRN GDUN DW UVW ad­just the lev­els in a pro­gram like Photoshop or GIMP to re­veal the brighter stars.

You can also take time-lapse pho­tos to show the move­ment of the night sky, and point the cam­era down the eye­piece of a tele­scope for zoomed-in shots of the Moon or plan­ets. But that’s about the limit of the small-aper­ture, [HG IRFDO length lens on a smart­phone when it comes to cap­tur­ing the night sky.

Try to have some hori­zon in shot to give the cam­era some­thing to fo­cus on

Orion is a win­ter con­stel­la­tion bright enough that it can be cap­tured us­ing a smart­phone cam­era

Film time-lapse movies us­ing a tri­pod for steadi­ness

No time-lapse mode on your phone? Then use Lapse It

The iPhone has its own in-built time-lapse func­tion

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