Changing Planet

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

  • pam rose

    Could I enlarge it? I can’t see most of it because it’s black. Love those snips that break thru.

    • Victoria Jaggard

      Yes, of course! When you hover your cursor over the video, you should see a navigation bar pop up at the bottom. Click on the icon to the left of the word “vimeo” with four radiating arrows to make the video full screen.

  • Ameer

    Awesome Video Victoria,watched Tempest in full screen. I personally like to feel where we are in this universe thinking of looking at myself from a view from above the earth.This video is really got great quality,Continue with the great work:).

  • Ryan

    Woah! This is nice. Music is a bit cheesy, but the shots are amazing. I’m building a time-lapse controller that can do this kind of stuff from Arduino. I can post a link here when it’s done if that’s kosher. 🙂

  • Bill Henry

    Great Video, did see navigation bar, will enlarge and replay.

  • Bill Henry

    At 1:59 into the video a buck walks into the field.

  • edgar ubalde

    totally awesome!!! i couldn’t believe you could capture all those stars and even the stellar clouds of our galaxy in detail. nice camera work. i hope i could do that as well! i haven’t seen so much stars like that even with a good telescope!

  • Muriel Goldston

    Breath taking, beautiful…..this video has it all. Fantastic!

  • sam harrison

    Beautiful!! So many stars. The storm and the meteor was great. What kind of camera do you have?

  • Cathy Aeria

    WOW! Awesome… thank you for sharing.

  • Marv Muñoz

    That is simply amazing!!! It looks totally surreal!

  • Dylan

    so very very cool loved it 🙂

  • Francoise Welch

    The Milky Way , La Voie Lactee : One of the best video I have ever watched, and the music is great !! Une des plus belles videos que j’ai vues, et la musique n’est pas mal non plus !! Enjoy, Regalez vous xxx

  • Зоя

    Таинственная красота! Чудо!

  • ICON1111111


  • karen kubican

    wow talk about inspiration!

  • guillaume

    I’m curious, the picture afre very sharp for a 2.8 aperture..? also you said tyhe “most” of the shot were taken at 30-20sec exp.. is this because you shot on Av mode?

    Very nice video!

    Thank you

  • Riana

    Awesome work! Thanks for sharing..

  • James

    @ICON1111111 the music is Tempest by Simon Wilkinson at

  • Juan Alberto Sosa

    Extraordinario me gusta mucho, gracias. JAS.

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