Taking the leap with a Milky Way time-lapse

2 weeks ago 11

Video can tell a story very different from the one that is a still frame. When you put a whole bunch of still frames together, a time-lapse is born.


I set the camera up in a vertical orientation to capture more stars and a taller Milky Way. I originally planned to light the foreground with the ISO cranked up due to no Moonlight and only a little light pollution hitting the tops of the rocks.

Even though the foreground was less than perfect, I decided to run a time-lapse as I wanted to enjoy the stars and providence took care of the foreground for me for the still frame. Being that I was going to stay.

One frame out of over 350 made, light was passing through my scene as if by magic. I only needed that one frame. Turns out the light came in the form of car headlights a little over a half a mile away that had high beams turned on. Light raked over the scene and viola a gorgeous foreground was born for the still photo! Camera settings were 10 seconds, ISO 6400 at f/1.8 focused on the stars with a fish-eye lens.

Processing for the video

Working with Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) makes it easy to process a lot of images with the same settings. I selected 350-plus images after reviewing and removing a few in Bridge.

After loading images into ACR, I applied settings that opened up shadows and enhanced the color. With Noise Reduction applied, images appear a little soft in the foreground. In a time-lapse video that can be forgiven because of the motion. When finished in ACR, I pressed the Done button vs. opening the files.

Adobe Bridge

My files were returned to Bridge with instructions on how they should be opened in the included sidecar files. You will find sidecar files are indicated in the top right hand corner of the thumbnails in Bridge. Selected images are processed and saved to a folder of TIFF images and a folder of JPEG images in one pass.

The TIFF files were used for further processing for the still image using Starry Landscape Stacker; see the processing article here. Creation of the time-lapse used JPEG files. There are specific programs available for time-lapse creation, but in this case I used QuickTime Player which comes standard with Mac computer.

In QuickTime, go to File > Open Image Sequence. Navigate to the folder of JPEGs. Select processing parameters. I used 24 frames per second and H-264. QuickTime then makes the movie.


I loaded the movie into the screen capture program Screenflow for further enhancement. This is a vertical image with a horizontal time-lapse. I mixed the still image and used it as a background for the video.

Originally designed as a screen capture program, Screenflow now does wonderful work in the video world. It does a great job at that. Many improvement for adding transitions, movement and soundtracks were added over the years. I’m doing a lot of my video production in Screenflow as it simplifies the complex in working with assembling video.

Time-lapse video. 24 FPS created with Photoshop, QuickTime Player and Screenflow. Music by bensound.com.


Sound is very important to a video. Try this. Watch the video with the sound on. Then watch it again with your system muted. It’s a totally different experience! There are music providers, some free of charge, some paid and some mixed. I used bensound. They have Royalty Free music some at no charge and some paid. Music is cleared for all video platforms provided you pay or credit in your video. You’ll note in the video there is a 5-second credit with bensound.com.

Yours in Creative Photography & Time-Lapse, Bob

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