Eos R as a timelapse unit

As you’ll see from my gear page, I have used the Panasonic GH5 since its release, mainly as a hiking camera as my intention was to reduce weight. As a time lapse unit, this camera worked fine, however the smaller sensor meant that low light situations were not rendered particularly well.

The Eos R body was recently announced and I figured this would be a good system to try. Lighter than my 5d Mark IV, and able to use my existing range of Canon EF lenses, and also the numerous Canon batteries which I’ve collected over the years.

Using the R as a standard camera was not really that different to use my 5d Mark IV. The colour science was as expected, the new focus peaking was a great addition, the body just worked fine.

Using the R as a timelapse camera proved slightly different. On an evening in Asnelles in France, I had clear skies looking over the Channel so figured this would be a good opportunity to try out the R for some astro timelapse. Without really thinking about it, I set the camera up as I have done with my 5D numerous times over the years, attaching my intervalometer, setting a 15 second exposure with an 18 second interval, focusing the lens using the 10x magnification in live view, then hitting start on the intervalometer.

I waited for a couple of shots to check the system was running properly, then headed indoors to warm up. If I do not sit next to the camera in these situations, I make sure I can regularly check that the red light is on to ensure that (a) the camera is still running and (b) someone has not run off with it in the dark…

On the first check of sight of the red lamp, I could see that something was not quite right. The camera was not firing properly on each interval, and shots were being missed which would result in a jerky time lapse. I ran some tests and couldn’t get the intervalometer to consistently fire the camera at an interval that I liked. So then I attempted to use the time lapse movie mode. I set the same 15 second exposure with an 18 second interval and hit start. The downside to this is that I could not check that the camera was running properly and there is no red lamp…. Turns out the time lapse movie mode worked fine, although I ended up with a video file and no RAW images.

So the next day I started testing the unit. Here’s what I discovered:

1. a 1 second shot with a 2 second interval using a remote results in a miss every 2 or 3 shots. ISO value does not affect this.

2. a 15 second shot needs at least an 18 second interval to be reliable. ISO value not a factor.

I am using an Aputure intervalometer so that could conceivably affect it, but if I merely hold my finger on the shutter button for 1 minute (no interval), I get the following results:

1. 2 second shots at ISO 100 is fine. Sometimes. Sometimes I get a delay every 2 shots.

2. 2 second shots at ISO1600 gets 18 shots in 1 minute (my 5d4 and 6DII get 27 shots and I’d expect to get somewhere near the 30 shot mark)

3. 2 second shots at ISO3200 gets 15 shots in 1 minute (my 5d4 and 6DII get 27 shots)

4. 1 second shots at ISO100 gets 28 shots in 1 minute (haven’t tested other ISOs) and 5d4 gets 49 shots

5. anything below 1 second fires normally when I hold down the shutter button and there is no lag at all.

All noise reduction, lens aberration corrections, etc have been turned off.

Using an EF lens on the Canon mount adapter. I have also tried the Cascable app and get the same results.

I contacted Canon and after some back and forth, got this response:

“We have heard back from the team now and they've been doing some looking into this and testing. They've spoken to the product specialists and have been advised that even when the options are turned off in the menu, there is processing that happens on the RAW file when the exposure time is above a certain threshold, and this may cause the “BUSY” icon to appear. The camera processing on the EOS R works differently to the EOS 5D Mark IV, so you will find that the time it takes to process images in certain scenarios may be different. In these situations, they have advised that you would need to allow a longer interval between shots for the images to be captured at a consistent rate for a time-lapse or use the Time Lapse movie mode.”

I went back and asked if they had some information on what minimum intervals would work in different situations, however Canon did not have anything further to add.

So it seems that the Eos R has no real consistency on time lapse intervals unless you opt for a 3 or 4 second interval or use the time lapse movie mode (which works fine but I don’t get individual RAW files at the end). Hopefully any future “Pro” model will be an improvement on this...

A Long Time Ago...

1992 was the year I first headed to the Alps. I was on a trip with a couple of friends from university, we had a very limited budget and our basic plan was to head somewhere in Europe for a week but avoid the standard beach holidays that everyone else seemed to be going on.

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The one place we all agreed on that was within our budget was a tiny village called Söll in Austria. We had no idea what we were likely to be doing once we got there. The thought was turn up, find a map, see what was there, wander around. At the time, Söll was a very tiny village – a few shops, a couple of bike rental places, a few ski shops, a pub and not much else. It definitely looked to be a great winter destination, definitely sleepy during summer.

No matter. Around Söll, there are plenty of hiking trails, biking trails and places to get lost in. Kitzbühel is a short bus or train journey. We ended up grabbing a hiking map and each day just set off on a different path to see what was there. This was my first hiking trip basically, and the first opportunity to wander up some mountains. I was completely unprepared, my gear was incredibly basic, a bad storm could easily have made our lives incredibly uncomfortable but we stomped all over the valley and all over the surrounding mountains.

The final hike was dedicated to charging up the Hohe Salve, just over 3500 feet elevation from our hotel which was situated at the bottom of the hike. This was my first attempt at an elevation that would qualify as a munro in Scotland. A tough sweaty day was had but the elation at reaching the summit was something that I still remember. It is at that point that the bug for hiking really kicked in. Not long after that, the bug for mountain photography also kicked in.

Twenty six years later, I’m back on the Hohe Salve but taking a slightly more relaxed approach to getting to the summit….
 

Valrovina

I arrived in Valrovina in the middle of a massive thunderstorm. After two weeks of one of Europe’s greatest heat waves, it was definitely time for some cooling off. Being unable to drive during the middle of the storm was, to be honest, a bit unexpected but four hours of driving on the Italian autoroute meant that it was definitely time for a break. Just wasn’t expecting the break to be exactly four minutes from my destination.

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The village of Valrovina is small and set in the foothills of the Alps. It is pretty damn steep also – the drive from the centre of the village up to my Airbnb apartment was pretty hairy. My host met me in the centre of the village and drove as fast as her VW Golf GT would get her up the slopes. In my mighty steed of a Skoda Octavia estate (my “middle aged dad-mobile”), I had to take it a bit slower! The Skoda is definitely excellent for what I need it to be in carrying all my gear for months at a time and cruising on long driving days, but it is definitely not suited to racing up steep single track with hair pin bends…

I came to Valrovina as part of my trip around the Alps. I’ve seen Chamonix, seen the Aosta valley and was in the process of travelling towards the Austrian Alps. Valrovina looked like an ideal spot to rest for a week and the apartment I’d found was set high on the hills above the village with a fantastic view across the valley – hopefully perfect for the Perseides meteor shower which was due to peak during the weekend of my stay here. 

I’m definitely planning on what I call “Lazy Astrophotography”.  This means setting my tripods up directly outside my apartment, getting the composition and settings dialed in around sunset, a large glass of Italian wine as the sun sets, then starting the intervalometers to run, maybe another glass of wine, check everything is running and then retire to let the cameras do their thing until the batteries die out. Fingers crossed for cloudless nights…
 

Becoming a Getty Images Contributor

Turns out the last few weeks have resulted in not one but two developments in terms of my photographic career.

In my last blog post I talked about getting a drone shot in newspaper print which was pretty awesome. However shortly after that, I received confirmation that I had finally been accepted as a Getty Images Contributor.

I can't explain what a great step forward that is for me. Whilst I have been submitting to other online stock sites, this is definitely a major development. Accepted by the world’s top stock site as a contributor. Not only a personal sense of achievement, but also a step forward in terms of gaining income as Getty’s commission fees are exceptional… Fun times!!!

You can find my image here...

https://www.gettyimages.com/license/987349480

First Time in Print

Entirely randomly, I discovered that one of my shots had made it into print. Specifically, into print in a newspaper in the place where I had lived for the last 12 years. As I sell most of my images via stock houses, I knew the image had been sold but had not checked up on who had purchased the print.

Here’s the image:

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One of my friends posted a link to the newspaper story on a social media platform but she was unaware that the image used was mine. I saw her post and recognized the shot. A nice surprise!

The image itself was a drone shot using my DJI Mavic Pro. To take the shot, I had to comply with the regulations imposed by the local civil aviation authority, which meant I had to be outside a restricted zone which is basically a 3 mile zone centered around the airport. This also meant that the vast majority of the island is excluded from legal drone flight. No matter, it is still possible to get excellent views of the island and some great drone shots near sunset.

I sat myself on the beach just outside the restricted zone and sent the drone out, making sure to keep outside the restricted zone. I was looking to take some panoramic shots but was also looking to use the exposure bracketing to make sure I could retain some of the detail in the shadows whilst capturing the nice light around sunset. 

So, with the bracketing function activated in the drone settings, I started taking the panorama view. This basically involves composing the shot, keeping the drone in a single position and rotating it as you form the panoramic view. There will be slight movement due to small wind changes, however the Mavic Pro is excellent at keeping still in flight. There are wind limits however if the wind is within the drone specifications, then you should be fine.

Once the drone is in position, I then started taking multiple shots, rotating the drone slightly and keeping the same position. With the exposure bracketing function activated, the drone can either take three or five shots of differing exposure. I generally tend to opt for the three shot mode as this gives sufficient dynamic range in the merged image. I also tend to take around five to seven shots as I rotate round the viewpoint to create the panoramic image. So three shots in each position, five to seven viewpoints.

Once the shots are taken and the drone is safely back on the ground, it’s time to take the images back into the laptop. I use Lightroom to merge the bracketed shots and to then stitch the merged exposure shots into a panorama. 

The process to merge the exposure shots is fairly straightforward, although I’d appreciate a batch function when I’m capturing several panoramas. The closest to this is to use Shift, Command, H – this will cause Lightroom to merge using the last setting used. So fix your settings in the first batch then use the Shift, Command, H route.

Once this processing is complete, I then go into the Library module and delete the original images. This is personal preference but I find the merged images to be better than the three separate exposures and I like to save hard drive space.

Coming back to the Develop module, I then select the merged images and let Lightroom stitch them into the panoramic image. Spherical mode is the best setting to use, although sometimes with drone panoramas, this setting either fails or creates a slightly distorted image due to the wide range of view. So in that case, I just pick whichever of Perspective or Cylindrical looks best.

From there, it’s a simple case of processing the image as you would any image and creating a final version which you then export. Exporting something which finally makes its way into an actual paper print gives a much larger sense of achievement!
 

Chamonix

After my time in Utah, I definitely needed a break from photography. I was feeling distinctly uncreative and was functioning on autopilot. The Utah trip was definitely an amazing experience and it's an area to which I love returning. And on that, I’ll be back there in October…

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So, after two months downtime, Chamonix was my next destination. I have been wanting to visit this area for several years now. Partly for some photography and partly to spend time wandering around the mountains surrounding Chamonix.

The drive from Calais to Chamonix was fairly long and tedious, but the first few days in Chamonix allowed me to recover and get to know the town. As with most mountain resorts, the people here are incredibly friendly, and suffered my badly spoken French fairly easily.

What did surprise me is whilst I enjoyed staying in the town of Chamonix, I grew to love the neighbouring valley a lot more than the valley in which Chamonix sits. The villages of Vallorcine, Le Buet and Le Tour became my daily destinations, not exactly off the beaten track but a slight reduction in the number of tourists and some beautiful trails.

Definitely returning next year, Brexit permitting…

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Capitol Reef

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in an orchard in Utah. An orchard in Capitol Reef National Park to be precise. The sun is setting, I can hear nothing but a river a few yards away and the clicking of my cameras as they cook some timelapse shots of the trees against the high cliffs of the park.

Just over two years ago, I made the decision to quit my legal career. It was a long time coming and the decision was not without its doubts. This used to be my view...

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But as I sit here, in this orchard, I know deep down that I made the right decision.

Capitol Reef National Park has some awesome views. The aptly named Sunset Point and Panorama Point along with the washes you can hike through and buttresses you can hike up, it’s a truly stunning place. I can’t imagine what the first settlers thought when they saw it and how they managed to get through or around to keep on heading West. Also how they managed to carve their names into the walls of the narrows so high...

It’s a stunning place for photography. The evening light bounces off the red cliffs and they glow as the sun sets. The huge vistas lend themselves to panoramic shots.

There is some wildlife here also. The small critters such as the ground hog and squirrel type animals. The deer wander the orchard near the entrance to the park. The mountain lions patrol the slightly higher and more lonesome elevations. I’ve yet to see a mountain lion but their presence is there. Scat on almost every trail I’ve hiked up and some fresh prints in the sand in Cohab Canyon heading in the same direction as I was (I figured it was prudent to head back at that point. Although a sighting is unlikely, lone hikers are a wee bit more vulnerable than two or a group).

So as the sun sets over this orchard on my last night in this park, I’m sad to leave this place. There is a particular measure of calmness and serenity to be gained by spending some time here. My view is way better than it was two years ago...

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Oh, and the park service here sells some amazing cinnamon rolls...

Frozen Stickle Tarn

Sounds like a dessert. But no. Still, a fantastic place to be…

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Jet lag as a result of the Hawaii-UK return leg was immense. More than a week later, I’m still struggling with it. Randomly wanting to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon, “naps” lasting 7 or 8 hours, awake from 3am. Yeah, awesome. However, Hawaii was totally worth the jet lag.

 

I arrived back in the UK a day before the “Beast from the East” arrived. Siberian style cold air, snow, ice, wind causing chaos. Luckily for me, I managed to time the travel so that I arrived in the Lake District in the north western corner of England before the main part of the storm dumped its snow all over the place. Had I arrived a day later, I’d be sitting in a random cheap hotel off the M6 motorway for a few days waiting for the roads to be cleared of snow.

 

The Airbnb flat I booked in Ambleside was a great place to bunker down whilst the weather calmed down. Various people in various places spent nights in cars and trains so I was pretty happy sitting in front of a fire, whisky in hand, watching the news on TV describe the chaos.

 

After a few days, the thaw set in and I was able to get out and about. The main target for me was getting some hiking in and hopefully getting a few shots in the process. Stickle Tarn is a place I’ve visited in the past, but it’s been almost twenty years since I’ve ventured to the Lake District (spoiler alert, not much has changed!). Stickle Tarn was my main target but I was pretty relaxed about making it up the hike.

 

To the side of the trail, is a stream which flows down from the tarn. I was hoping that there would be a sufficient thawing out to boost the various small waterfalls. I slowly made my way up the path, stopping from time to time to shoot some timelapse (and regain control of my breathing). The video below was the resulting output.

 

Eventually, the path winds its way slightly away from the stream and waterfalls, and you end up scrambling over the rocks as you gain the high point of the hike and reach the tarn. The path started to get snowy, slushy, and a bit slippery in places. Nothing too sketchy but care did need to be taken to minimize sliding around. The tarn itself was frozen over.

 

I love this location. I’ve yet to make it up here in summer, as the larger fells have attracted me during the warmer seasons. However, a frozen Stickle Tarn is a stunning location and definitely recommended. Definitely planning to get back here in summer…

 

Hawaii, but not the beach

I’m currently putting off packing my bags at the end of my six weeks in Hawaii, before I fly back to the UK where the weather folks are bracing us for the coldest weather in years, forecasting wind chills of -13C and snow. So I’m expecting the usual travel apocalypse when I get there.

Hawaii has been an excellent experience. Three weeks in Maui, three weeks on Big Island. Weather has not been exactly what you expect from a tropical paradise. Fortunately, at least for me, I wasn’t here to sit on the beach (12 years in the Caribbean has removed any wish for that!).

The original idea and reason for the Hawaii trip was to tick off a bucket list item. I’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands before, a few years back, but for pure sightseeing, not a photography trip. This time, I wanted to return to a couple of locations where I knew I could get some decent shots if I had the time to spend.

The summit of Haleakala was the key location that I wished to return to. Sitting at just over 10,000 feet, it offers some stunning views over the island of Maui and its sister islands. I was here principally for the opportunity of clear skies and so some astrophotography alongside some time lapse. Coming from the Caribbean, I was expecting every night to be clear but sadly that didn’t prove to the case. If you’re coming here for astrophotography, it may be that there is a better time of year. Success rates for me were about 60%, that is 6 nights out of 10 were clear. The other nights were fog, mist, rain, wind.

Still, this was definitely a bucket list location for me. Easy to access, you can drive straight to the top. There are various locations which are useful for astro photography – the summit itself looking out over the observatory, the sunrise parking lot, the Kalahaku Overlook, and the Haleamau’u trailhead. There are also various turn offs which provide alternate views. The vast majority overlook the main town in Maui, however the Kalahaku Overlook and the summit itself provide a view over the crater itself, which can be best utilized when the moon is nearer its fuller phase so that you can balance the stars and the landscape itself.

The other bucket list location for astro photography and time lapse was the Kilauea caldera overlook on Big Island. A small lake of lava exists in the bottom of the caldera. You can't see this, but you can see the smoke and steam rising during the day. At night, however, the view gets much better and you get to gaze out at the glowing reds and oranges against the passing clouds and if you’re lucky enough, you can balance the exposure so that you get the glowing crater and the moving stars. I was not quite so lucky with the weather but did manage some decent time lapse footage of my time there.

My time however is coming to an end, but it has definitely been a worthwhile trip and the experience of time lapsing the stars from the top of Haleakala has been memorable (particularly the random guy playing the flute during one of the spectacular sunsets). Sad to leave, but definitely planning on coming back.

The downturn in the weather towards the end of my trip has given me the time to sit and start putting together content for my new YouTube channel. My Hawaiian trip has given me some fantastic time lapse footage which has been added to the channel. It would be awesome if you could join me there and subscribe…

YouTube: amorehousephoto

 

Starting out

The first page in my journey as a photographer. This website marks the transition from photography as a hobby into something of a career. 

For the 21 years prior to this transition, I spent most of my days sitting at a desk. Staring at a screen. Staring at large documents. Starting at two screens. Staring at ever larger documents. Sometimes having a great view out of my office window, sometimes having a view of a parking structure. It became time for a change.

The change in my career took a while to come about. It took a while to find a way out of my prior career and to be comfortable in switching to a career which involves my passion. Switching from a comfortable life with a regular salary to a more adventurous lifestyle with no guarantee of an income.

My happiness has increased massively. Staring at mountains. Staring at stunning landscapes. Staring at wildlife. Fighting off biting insects. Attempting to convey my emotions in an image as I stare at the sights before me. A massive challenge but one which I can definitely relishing.

Follow me as I continue on this journey...