Michael Shainblum shoots some of the best astro-photography and timelapse sequences around. We were lucky enough to have him answer a few questions this past week. He has some profound advice for anyone looking to get into the time-lapse game. Even if you don't want to read, we highly recommend watching both of the videos below, as they are purely amazing.
How did you get started with timelapse and astro-photography?
I have always been interested in art ever since I was little. There has never been a point in my life where I didn’t want to surround myself with art. I have been experimenting with all forms of digital media including photography, video, and especially timelapse, which have become my preference in the art world. When I first got started shooting photography I used to click the button a bunch of times to create stop motion animations, which eventually led to my interest in timelapse over time. I have always loved and appreciated the night sky and the stars, so astro-photography was always something I wanted to try and once I finally got enough money for a camera that could successfully capture the stars, I pretty much fell in love with shooting astro-photography and timelapse.
Walk us through a typical day/night of shooting.
Typically the first step is planning out where I want to go and scouting the locations. Checking the weather and conditions is also very important. I always prep my gear and make sure I have what I need for the specific shot, and the time of day I am shooting at. Unless I’m already camping, driving to a spot usually requires about 2 hours or more. I usually get to the spot early during the day to set up my shot before sunset or an astro-photograph.
I set up my shot and if it is a sunset shot, I make sure I have the correct exposure and I begin my shot when the color starts to show. For an astro-timelapse, I usually set up my shot in the direction of the sky that the galactic core is facing, and the shot takes about 4-5 hours to complete. If I’m shooting photos of the night sky, a 30 second exposure usually does the job for a great image.
What do you do while you wait for a sequence?
If it’s during the daytime I don’t wait much because the shots are fairly quick so most of the time I’m planning out my next shot. At night or when I shoot the Milky Way, I usually sleep or camp while I’m waiting for the 4-5 hour shot to finish. I also shoot astro-images while my timelapse is going off, so that I have not only a timelapse shot but also a few images to post.
You have shown the wonders of California in an extraordinary way. Do you plan to continue with that theme or do you want to travel and explore other areas?
I plan on traveling and exploring new ideas and places.
What advice would you give someone looking to improve their timelapse and astro-photography skills?
Be creative and don’t follow the pack. It’s essential to explore new ideas and bring something new to the table that nobody has done before. Surprise people and give them something that they have never seen before. Networking and social media is also essential.