New Timelapse Video: “Tempest” Pits Stars Against Storms

Just as in real estate, it seems the key to amazing astrophotography is location, location, location.

Being able to shoot in the dark, open plains of central South Dakota, for example, allowed Randy Halverson to create a stunning new timelapse video he’s dubbed “Tempest Milky Way.”

As advertised, the reel captures the tranquil beauty of the Milky Way basically getting smacked in the face by roiling thunderstorms.

Aside from showcasing an incredible sense of place, the video is a study in lighting control.

Capturing fields of stars against fields of flowers means long exposure times, in Randy’s case, 30 seconds at f2.8 for most of the star shots. And that’s at ISO settings of 1600 to 3200.

Then, having the sky get interrupted by brilliant flashes of lightening means dialing back some to about 20- to 25-second exposures and crossing your fingers the frames don’t get totally overexposed.

You’re also hoping any oncoming storm doesn’t wreck your gear: For this video Randy was working with multiple cameras and a dolly, a setup that needs to be carefully placed and then left alone to get the right shots.

“In one instance, within a minute of picking up the camera and dolly, 70mph [112 kph] winds hit,” Randy writes in his video caption. But “one storm was perfect, it came straight towards the setup, then died right before it reached it.”

Set this video to HD and make it full screen to judge for yourself whether the star-storm combo is successful.

You can also spot a few timelapse “Easter eggs” if you look closely: At one point a white-tailed deer makes an appearance on the grassy horizon, and at another a bright meteor gets reflected in a small pond.

Picture by Randy Halverson

Changing Planet