A Moment of Zen from the Pacific Ocean

On Sunday I shot a time lapse of the dramatic arrival of a storm front from the Pacific Ocean. Yesterday I shot a sunset at the same location, one of my favorites, Malaga Cove. Standing at maybe about 1,000 feet above the ocean, you can watch small puffs of clouds flow in and up the walls of the cove. As the sun sets, the sky comes to life.

Enjoy a one-and-a-half minutes of zen brought to you on February 1, 2011, by the sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen from Malaga Cove.


For the technically inclined:

This time lapse presented some interesting technical issues. The camera was in aperture mode at f3.2 facing, at times, directly into the setting sun. This created some significant flicker issues as the brightness levels from shot to shot tended to be all over the place. Since I don’t own Adobe After Affects*, which has some excellent solutions for this problem, I rendered the time lapse in FCP which lacks a solid solution for flicker control.

The best the pros can recommend for FCP is CHV’s Long Exposure v4.x plugin. This plugin averages the information across a user defined number of frames before and after each shot, along with a few other control points. The plugin removed virtually all of the visual flicker. The problem: It made the water motion look surreal since it averages motion as well as brightness. To make the water look more natural (but have flicker issues) and the sky look natural without the flicker, I created a keyframed gradient mask that only made the plugin’s affect on the sky visible in the final output.

And, for what ever reasons**, the H.264 CODEC created some terrible banding issues in the sky near the end as the brightness values drop. But, since this wasn’t for a professional project, more a proof of concept, I post as is.

* It’s just too damned expensive if you’re not entitled to one of their discount programs. I am not.

** I suspect I know why.  Long.  Involved.