Here is the thing about Ladakh, especially if you are travelling into the less touristy areas – the topography is quite barren and flat with no unnecessary distractions that make it quite the perfect place for some experiments. In July-Aug, the skies are usually clear and that provides a great opportunity for some star-trails, milky-way and night-sky shots. Unfortunately, we had no such luck as it turned out – cloudy night skies followed us everywhere throughout our 10-day trip. I decided to make the best of the situation and try and get some time-lapses – capturing the movement of clouds across the sky in a time-lapse video.
The starting point for me was to figure out how to use the in-camera time-lapse feature on my Nikon D500, having never used it before. I decided to start with that as I wanted to see the final output straight away rather than the more involved method of processing and splicing the images externally. I discovered that the D500 has a fairly easy to use features for this. This is basically how it works:- Go to the time-lapse movie sub-menu in the movie shooting menu, set the interval (I went with 20-sec), shooting time (I went with 180 mins) and set exposure smoothing to ON. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Before I could get started, I had to set up the frame first. I felt that I needed an interesting foreground to add some relief. I had spotted an Ibex skull lying around and felt that it would be perfect. When I tried lifting it, however, I was surprised by how heavy it was – must have weighed about 18-20 kgs is what I reckon. The process of lifting it and lugging it about 50 mtrs or so to set up the frame left us breathless at this altitude – we were about 15000+ ft above sea level. A few test shots to get the exposure right and then it was a 3 hour wait to see how it all turned out.
When I started the time-lapse, it looked as if it we could experience a shower sometime during the 3-hour span. I used some plastic covers to cover the camera and the lens so that they would be protected. It so happened that there was a shower – you can catch this between the 13-sec and the 16-sec mark in the video. Here is what the final output looked like (watch it on a laptop on full screen)