How (Not) To Build A Timelapse Panner

Build a timelapse panner

How (not) to build a Timelapse Panner

I like taking timelapse videos so wanted to improve them by trying to build a timelapse panner to slowly turn the camera as it takes the video to make them more interesting.

To achieve this I bought a clockwork kitchen, or egg timer, which you twist to the time you want and then it slowly rotates until it reaches zero. I was going to attach a camera mount to the top of my Qumox action camera would turn with the timer.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find one here in Fuerteventura but when I returned to the UK in May I saw one in Tesco. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, as it was egg-shaped, which meant, as it didn’t have a flat top, I needed to adapt it to mount the camera. I finally got around to doing it this week.

I decided that it was best to discard the domed top and make a flat platform to mount the camera on. As you will see, if you watch the video, when I tried to remove the bell ringing mechanism everything went wrong as the mechanism fell apart and I was unable to fix it.

I will have to look for another now and try again. You can’t win them all!

Watch the video in Youtube

Sunset Photography Tips – Fuerteventura Sunsets

Sunset Photography Tips

Sunset Photography Tips

Fuerteventura Sunsets

During the winter months we can get some pretty spectacular sunsets in Fuerteventura. Going down to one of the beaches for the golden hour – the hour before the sun sets when the light is at its best – to watch or photograph the sunset is one of the nicest “free” things you can do on the island.

In the summer the sky either tends to be more hazy or has no clouds. Also, quite often in the summer, there is a band of clouds on the horizon.  The sun goes behind the band and just dies without colouring up the sky. For a good sunset you need the sun to go below a clear horizon. Then the sun can shine on the underside of the clouds and make them go some wonderful colours.

My favourite beaches to photograph the sunsets from are Steps and the Surfer’s Beaches in El Cotillo, Esquinzo and Tindaya beaches. At sunset in the winter you can pretty much guarantee having them to yourself. Mind you, when I say winter, I will still just have shorts and a t-shirt on and will be at the water’s edge in bare feet. By contrast, my photography buddy has lived on the island for many years. He would more likely to be wearing jeans, shirt, a coat, hat and wearing Wellington boots!

As I simply don’t do mornings you will not find any photos of sunrises in my files. I have heard of this sunrise concept but have never actually witnessed it!

Some tips to help take better sunset photographs

These are some of the sunset photography tips I have picked over the years. I hope they may be useful to you.

Tip 1: If your camera allows it then shoot in manual mode and slightly under-expose the photo which will help enhance the colours of the sunset (or sunrise). For example, if in auto mode the camera selects an exposure of F11 at 125th second, then switch to manual mode. Then set the aperture to F11 and the shutter speed to 500th of a second.

Tip 2: Wherever possible use a tripod, particularly during the end of the sunset when there is less light so you will be shooting at slower shutter speeds. If  tripod isn’t to hand then try to use a rock, wall or some other steady surface to put the camera on and then used the shutter timer.

Tip 3: Look for an interesting foreground, a nice rock, a rock pool etc to have in the foreground of the photo to make that more interesting. A mass of flat sand may be nice to look at in real life but it can make the photo a bit boring. Move around until you find the right spot. Sitting at a bar and taking a photo of the “lovely sunset” from where you are sitting (with tables, chairs and perhaps cars in the way) is lazy. All of the photo should be interesting, not just the sky.

Sunset Photography Tips
Surfers Beach Sunset – [email protected]/160th sec

Tip 4: To increase the colours in the sunset try using a different white balance setting. Instead of being in “auto” try switching to “shade”. I did this last night to show the difference but only had my old rubbish phone. The photos are poor but even so I think it shows the difference between white balance settings.

sunset photography tips
Taken with white balance set to “Auto”
sunset photography tips
Taken with white balance set to “Shade”

Tip 5: If you are at the coast then try to double up on the colour.  Use the refection of the sunset in a rock pool or on wet sand.

sunset photography tips
Tindaya Beach Sunset [email protected] secs

Tip 6: Don’t give up on the sunset too early. A number of times I have said to myself, “that’s it, all over”. I have packed away my gear and started heading back to the car. I have then looked back and the sky has suddenly coloured up again. If you are using a tripod you may be surprised just how long you can photograph and still have good colour.

Tip 7: If you are photographing on the beach (with a tripod) then experiment with using long exposures. By this I mean shutter speeds of over a second upwards. You can get some great effects with wispy seas as the waves come in and out a few times while the shutter is open.

Sunset Photography Tips
Surfers Beach Slow Exposure [email protected] sec

I will share other sunset photography tips in another article and video later.

Watch the video in Youtube

Gatwick Airport Timelapse

Gatwick Airport Timelapse

Gatwick Airport Timelapse

The night before our flight back to Fuerteventura we stayed in the Bloc hotel which is situated in what were the old admin offices on top of the south terminal at Gatwick airport. We had room 686 which had a great view of the whole airport.

It took me back over 40 years to my plane spotting days as a teenager when I used to travel to Gatwick airport on the 727 bus and watch from the roof gardens, almost at the very spot I was staying.

It was a perfect place to stay. We managed to check our hold baggage in the night before the flight so in the morning we literally stepped out of the hotel lifts and 10 paces later we were in the security area.

To kill time I decided to play around with a few timelapse videos which I actually did using the Timelapse Pro app on my Android tablet.

Watch Gatwick Timelapse Video in Youtube

Premiere Elements 14 – How to apply lens correction

Premiere Elements 14

Premiere Elements 14 – How to apply lens correction

I have recently upgraded to Adobe Premier Elements 14 from version 9 of the video editing software. I have also bought a Qumox SJ5000 action camera which has a very wide angle lens. Consequently the image is quite distorted (barrelled) which is not a problem for many shots but for those with straight, parallel lines it doesn’t look so good. I therefore wanted to find a way within Premiere Elements 14 to correct the distortion. In the Pro version there are lens profiles included which you can use to automatically correct it but that isn’t the case with Elements. I managed to use the “Lens Distortion” effect to manually straighten out the footage which is what I show in this video.

Was it worth upgrading? Well frankly, not really. There are very few new features that I will actually use. They have made it look different (so you think you are getting something for your money) but it looks worse in my opinion. It looks more “amateur” but then perhaps that is what it is really designed for. I would have upgraded to Premiere Pro but now they want you to pay a monthly subscription, which I am not prepared to do. The new CC version also makes use of “the cloud” but with internet access being slow here in Fuerteventura that isn’t really a viable option for me.

Watch video on Youtube

QUMOX SJ5000+ Action Camera Review

Qumox SJ5000+

QUMOX SJ5000+ Action Camera Review

I have been using the Qumox SJ5000+ wifi action camera for 6 weeks since I purchased it from Amazon. These are my initial impressions and some of the good and bad points I have found. One thing I don’t mention is the wifi part of the camera. When I bought it I assumed this would mean I could download videos to my pc via wifi. In fact it is a facility to connect to a smart phone so you can watch what the camera is capturing (I think). I don’t (won’t) have a smart phone so that facility is of no use to me. I wish now I had just bought the SJ5000+.

Good points: Low price, neat design, full HD quality, battery life (now), accessories, time-lapses

Bad points: Manual, firmware update problem, unable to set to PAL, highlight blow-out problems, file numbering system

As I mention in the video, I have sent an email to Qumox support about some of the issues but so far I have not had a reply. When I do I will probably do a quick update video.

I have never used a Gopro so I cannot comment on how this compares.

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to share them.

UPDATE:

I have been asked to return the camera for replacement as it seems that some of the above problems may be due to an internal wiring issue. I will keep this updated.

Update to update

The camera was replaced and now works fine

Watch the video on Youtube