Atlantic Highlands Harbor Sunset Timelapse With A Syrp Genie Mini

Still learning about sunset timelapse photography

I’m still learning about sunset time-lapse photography, meaning timelapses in changing light conditions. While in the above video is only an example of this, this project proves one thing that has been discussed in several timelapse forums, and that is this:

Many folks maintain that Syrp Genie Mini is not compatible when run with the qDSLR dashboard to do timelapses using Gunther Wegner’s LRTimelapse software and his “Holy Grail Method”.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, please read on, the technical lingo is explained below, or at least there are more resources and links you can explore if you are curious…

What IS The Holy Grail?

The holy grail method ensures smooth and flicker free transitions from day to night day lighting conditions or vice-versa.

For timelapse photography, this has several challenges. While panning and taking long exposures, there is the need to continue to adjust the camera’s exposure. Sure – you can shoot in Aperture priority mode, but this often produces unwanted light peaks and flickering in the final result, caused by many reasons such as clouds moving in front of the sun and the camera adjusting the shutter speed as a result. So the best way is to shoot in manual mode, however this then has it’s own problems: You will need to adjust the exposure manually in between shot intervals, and touching the tripod in those brief moments can cause blurring and mis-alignments. Add to this the fact that you may be panning or using a slider, and the process of trying to adjust the exposure manually becomes quite tricky. Enter qSDL Dashboard, which is a free cross platform application for controlling Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras on iPhone and Android..

Harbor Sunset Timelapse with the qDSLR dashboard app and its LR Timelapse Screen on AndroidGunther Wegner is an authority on timelapse photography and developed not only the LRTimelapse software, (which  is the most solid and used timelapse processing tool out there for Lightroom users), but he also perfected a sort of automatic bulb ramping software module for the qDSLR dashboard, including the technique he calls the “Holy Grail”. You can find many great tutorials on Gunther’s site.

Using this in combination with the Syrp Genie Mini Pan Head

Harbor Sunset Timelapse With the Syrp Genie Mini The added difficulty for me is that during the timelapse I am also using a small motorized “move-shoot-move” intervalometer and pan head from Syrp called the Genie Mini. It is an amazing tool that lets you plan timelapses using their iPhone app.

Hacking together a shutter release cable that is missing the auto-focus signal, (according to Gunther Wegner’s instructions here) I was able to get the overall combination of tools to work pretty reliably. The hacked shutter release connects the Genie Mini to the Canon 6D, and the USB connection with qDSLR dashboard that had been malfunctioning before I applied this hack seems to be solid now.

I\’ve been testing this several nights now to establish that this can work reliably before heading into NYC next week for a more serious test. Nothing has been more frustrating than to arrive at a beautiful location with beautiful light, only to fumble around with equipment and miss the shot sequence trying to get the various software components to work.  I know this can be done manually, but requires lots of monitoring throughout the sequence, and I want to nail the automation necessary. I figure I can use the time gained to shoot with a second camera… So I was pleased that this seems to be coming together, and that my “fumbling around” is becoming less frequent with experience.

Somewhat of an experiment

This timelapse video was shot with a Canon 6D, mounted on a Syrp Genie Mini, and USB tethered to an Android Nexus7 tablet running qDSLR Dashboard software in the LRTimelapse Auto Holy Grail mode. Camera settings are all manual, the white balance was set to shadows and the exposure and ISO ramping was controlled by the qDSLR software based on an average of 3 exposures. I had tried to do this with the Canon 6D’s wireless connectivity feature before, but the connection between the camera and the tablet was just not reliable enough for me.  Post processing was done in Lightroom using the LRTimelapse software, and processed in “Holy Grail” mode. 

Here is another non-holy grail timelapse from today

Shooting the Atlantic Highlands Ferry Traffic that peaks around 6:10 every night


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