Sometimes things just don’t go like you hope. I went to Hoover Reservoir really early to try a “Holy Grail” sunrise time lapse with qDSLR Dashboard, but couldn’t seem to do anything right.
A “Holy Grail” time lapse is one where the scene goes from very dark to very light, like at sunrise or sunset, and the shutter speed and ISO are ramped to keep the transition smooth. To do this manually you have to touch the camera, which risks moving it, and make educated guesses about when and how much to adjust the settings. qDSLR Dashboard is a free program that runs on Android, Windows, Linux and Mac/iPhone that analyzes time lapse photos as you take them and adjusts the camera settings for you either wirelessly on wi-fi enabled cameras or over a USB connection. Then using a program like LRTimelapse you can adjust and assemble the photos in to a nice smooth time lapse video.
First, I didn’t go early enough. I’d semi-scouted a location, but when I got there nearby flood lights were on that I hadn’t noticed during the day. There were also two people sitting in the exact spot I’d picked waiting to watch the sunrise.
After finding an alternative spot right on the dam, I tried to setup the time lapse with my Sony a5000, which is wi-fi enabled, and my Kindle. Even though I’d run through the setup at home, now it wouldn’t work. I think I may have forgotten to switch the camera to Manual mode before connecting. Because I was there and setup I decided to try a non-Holy Grail time lapse. In my rush I got the settings wrong, stopped the camera, adjusted the settings and restarted. That left a hiccup in the video. The second set of settings were wrong too. I was trying to keep to a 2 second exposure, but before the sun rose the exposure was blown out so the time lapse stops before the sun actually rises.
When I first started “serious” photography, I thought that once I’d shot at a location then I should find a new one and never return. Now I realize that returning to the same spot repeatedly gives me the chance to find the best or even just a different photo.
Hoover reservoir is a beautiful location and offers ample opportunities for new and creative photos… I just have to find them. There’s no music added to this one.
Usually I avoid photographing human made stuff, but because the time lapse was a fail I tried something completely different and got an acceptable shot of the sun rising over the dam, an abstract shot of the spillway with the geyser and another shot of a Blue Heron.
Getting the Hoover Dam Abstract shot meant using the Manfrotto tripod’s 90° center post. I’ll say it again – buy the best tripod you can, it makes photography so much more enjoyable.