Friday, February 15, 2008

One thing leads to another

For a couple of months now I've gotten into time-lapse photography... taking a series of still images a second or so apart and then stringing them into a movie. Alternately, filming something with my G9's time-lapse movie facility. That works well enough, but my preferred method is to take a series of stills with the Rebel XT.

I bought the Rebel XT about two and a half years ago, not to long after I started this blog. It's never really been my "main" camera, because it's impractical to carry around. But on the other hand, it is a DSLR, and can manage a lot of things the PowerShots I've been using since I got the G1 in early 2006 really can't quite. One of those is to take a series of precisely-timed, interval-driven series of photos over a period of time.

Canon makes an intervalometer — a remote timer controller — for its higher-end EOS DSLRs. This, unfortunately, leaves the Rebel, the XT, and the XTi in the dust. However, a guy in Austria actually makes and sells an adapter cable that will allow you to plug the TC-80N3 into the plug for the RS-60E3 remote shutter release. When it arrives, this will enable me to shoot time-lapse in a manner I haven't be able to so far. Up till now, it's involved setting up the XT, plugging in the RS-60E3, and then letting the camera shoot exposures basically as fast as it can. There's no subtlety to it; you get it as fast as the camera can go, and that's that. With the TC, which arrived yesterday (the cable should be here sometime next week), I'd be able to go out to the light sanctuaries this summer, set up the camera, point it at the sky and set it to ISO 200 and F/5.6 and have the intervalometer take 15-second exposures (four a minute) for, say, six hours. Come home, throw the still images in sequence into the movie software, and voila... a movie of the sky slowly rotating. I know it's been done a million times, but the point is, not by me. Not yet.

I had some interesting trouble with the guys in London (London, Ontario, not England) trying to order it. For some reason I can't fathom, they pretty much insisted that I call up my card issuer and inform them of the delivery address I'd given them. To me, this was utterly absurd. Putting aside the point that my credit card isn't actually a credit card – it's a pay-positive card (in other words, the only money on it is money I've already earned and put on it) that facilitates use of the MasterCard system – what possible business is it of the card issuer where I have a purchase delivered? What, every time I chose to send something to an address other than my billing address, I'm supposed to phone up the card issuer and register the delivery address? I don't think so. I politely but firmly informed them that I had never been asked to do so by any retailer in the nearly 20 years I've held credit cards, and I had no intention of starting; that if the card number, expiry date, billing address, and shipping destination didn't suffice for them to close the deal, I would simply buy it downtown. The only reason I was working with them in the first place was they had the best price on the web ($30 cheaper than the best quote I got here in Toronto). Of course, there was also $15 in shipping that I wouldn't have buying it in town, so really I was only saving about the cost of a modest lunch ordering from them. It wasn't worth it if they were going to start making life hard for me... not for fifteen bucks. Fortunately, the grudgingly $aw the light and li$tened to rea$on and $hipped the thing a couple of days ago, and it arrived yesterday. So I now have the camera, the timer, and no means yet to successfully mate them. Ah, but the aphrodisiac is on its way from Europe, even now. :)

Not quite soon enough, though. I've been working for a month now on a new project; time-lapse of night scenes in the city. It's going well, but I need a sunset (and possibly a moonrise) to complete the project. A lot of calculation and waiting for a sunny weekend has given me this Saturday downtown to catch the sun ducking into the buildings of the downtown core, from the bridge that carries Richmond and Adelaide Streets over the DVP. It'll be cold, but hopefully not a lonely vigil. P-Doug has kindly agreed to aid me, and aside from the company, he's pretty much indispensable. He has a timer that will chime every minute, telling me when to open the shutter. I think we need to be set up by about 5 PM, as sunset is at 5:48, but it'll be settling into the buildings slightly earlier than that, I think. Hopefully I'll get some good results. We'll soon see.

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