A Breathtaking View of the Milky Way from La Palma by Randy and Brenda

By: Randy and Brenda
Source: http://vimeo.com/randyhoffmann

This timelapse was filmed while on a hiking trip to the island of La Palma, Canary Islands in the summer of 2013.

I spent two nights camping at Pico de La Cruz (2351 m) along the GR131 Trail atop the crest of the Caldera de Taburiente, not far from the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatories on August 6th and 9th. Please note that wild camping is officially not permitted on the island. Do so at your own risk. It is imperative that one use only red light at night anywhere near the observatories and in a direction away from. Pico de La Cruz was close yet far away enough to be discreet and unobtrusive.

This short movie consists of four timelapse sequences, two shot per night. Sky conditions were very favourable with no moon and minimal turbulence. The only drawback was the orange glow toward the horizon in the direction of the Caldera caused by the Calima phenomenon. Weather conditions were tolerable with light winds and comfortable temperatures.

The view of the Milky Way was breathtaking ! The growing intensity of the Perseid Meteor Shower as seen especially in the fourth sequence was certainly a treat (those are not planes). Shooting these celestial timelapses took a lot of planning and patience. On the first night I was already tired and dizzy after hiking 24 km along the GR131 Trail all day from El Pilar (https://vimeo.com/74318509) with a heavy backpack filled with camera / timelapse gear. Thanks to my wife Brenda for all her patience, inspiration and helping me carry our supplies and my equipment. The second night my wife dropped me off along the road leading to the observatories, where I then hiked a short distance to the peak. I did not get a wink of sleep either night as I was worried about equipment malfunction, battery drainage and condensation on the lens. I became totally immersed in the scene and situ however, leaving me in a contemplative mood and just simply astonished.

Canon 550d
Sigma 10mm f/2.8 fish-eye lens
Pocketslider dolly (Pocketslider.de)
Hahnel Giga T2 Pro intervalometer
Velbon QHD-53D tripod and MeFoto backpacker tripod

Manual, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 25 second exposures, 15 second intervals. It was a toss up between high ISO and exposure to keep graininess to an acceptable minimum … and as for my antiquated and now abused 550d … it still did an o.k. job I think 🙂 Next time … full frame body !!

A total of 1600 RAW files edited and processed using Lightroom, LRTimelapse and Final Cut Pro.

Music: “Love and Loss” by Two Steps from Hell.

The Island of La Palma is beautiful in all aspects. It’s a great place to hike and perfect for viewing and photographing the heavens. The night skies are protected from light, radio and air traffic pollution according to the “Sky Act”.

A timelapse I shot of La Palma can be seen at https://vimeo.com/72705307
A video of our trip to the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory and tour of the GranTeCan Telescope can be seen at https://vimeo.com/73063516
Videos of our hikes can be seen at https://vimeo.com/album/2498182


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