A sunset time-lapse

I went on an old-school family holiday last week, and took the opportunity to capture some of the lovely Scottish scenery. It was Kirkcolm, in the Rhins of Galloway, and I shot a time-lapse of the sunset from the back deck.

After some experimenting I settled on one shot every 5 seconds, left it on manual and set it to initially overexpose quite a bit, to get the most out of the foreground, at the expense of the sky and with the hope of greater longevity as the light went.

I shot in raw so, with relief, I was able to recover a lot of the blown-out detail from the sky. I settled on a group of raw import settings that worked well for the first few images I looked at, then set them up to batch-process in Photoshop. When I went to sequence these in After Effects though, it left the latter end of the sunset too dark for too long, so I ended up deriving a new group of settings that brought the most out of the under-exposed end of the sequence. Finally I lined the two sequences up and faded the brighter version in gradually, as though the exposure had been adjusted manually during the capture.

The flickering specks you can see are (I’m told) swifts and some other small birds, who were nesting (and swooping maniacally) in and around the house. They are a little distracting but I haven’t yet had the heart to content-aware them out. Please sir, they’re only little.


I'm Adam Vernon: front-end developer, free-time photographer, small-hours musician and general-purpose humanoid.