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Astro Landscape Photography

Lesson 5 of 16

How to Use an Intervalometer for ALP

Lance Keimig

Astro Landscape Photography

Lance Keimig

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Lesson Info

5. How to Use an Intervalometer for ALP

Lesson Info

How to Use an Intervalometer for ALP

We've got one more piece of equipment to talk about that we didn't cover in the last section and that is the intervalometer. Intervalometer is a device that allows you to take exposures longer than 30 seconds and it also allows you to do a sequence of exposures either continuous or with an interval. You might want to use those for image stacking or time lapse photography or just very long exposures because most cameras don't have shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds and while you do have a bulb mode, you don't necessarily have the option to keep the camera open without some kind of a remote release or intervalometer. Many of the camera manufacturers make their own intervalometers and they tend to be more expensive than the off brand ones that have come onto the market in recent years. One I like in particular is the Vello Shutterboss and most of these are pretty similar depending on, independent of what camera you're going to be using. The only difference is the connectors so you need...

to make sure that you get the right connector for your specific camera. So before we talk about how we use this thing, I just want to show you one little handy tip here. The weak spot on most of these things is where the cable connects to the body and a lot of people just let them kind of dangle from their camera and they flop around in the wind and this connection tends to break. So a convenient solution I've come up with is just put a little bit of sticky back Velcro on the tripod and that way it's just always right where I need it to be. Alright, let's take a look at how to go about using these intervalometers cause that's an issue that a lot of people tend to have problems with. It's one of those things, they're really not that difficult to use but take a little while to get used to it. So most of them are fairly similar in there options and tools and buttons and so forth so I'm going to show you the most typical or most common type here. Alright, so why do we use an intervalometer? We're going to be programming exposures longer than 30 seconds and you can also program continuous sequences for image stacking to create long star trails. Also you might want to do intermittent sequences for time lapse photography and again, not necessarily to spend the extra money on the camera brand when you can get off brands, some of which are better than others. The one I like is the Vello. Alright, another option for Canon photographers is a open source firmware called Magic Lantern and that can be loaded onto your memory card and overrides the native Canon firmware and adds a lot of functionality of intervalometers and also video function that's not available in the native Canon firmware. Let's take a look at the functions and controls of the intervalometer. So in the upper left hand corner is a little function called delay and that is how long after you push the button until it actually starts. So you might want, think of it as like a self timer function except it's variable length so say for example, you're going to be doing some light painting that's way off in the distance and you have a relatively short exposure, you can set a delay of ten, 20, 30 seconds or even a couple of minutes which will give you time to get into position to do your light painting. So that's the upper left hand corner in the top of the intervalometer button. Next it says, it usually says long, sometimes it will say exposure depending on the brand and that is obviously the length of exposure that you're going to be programming into your intervalometer. Interval is the next one. How much time in between exposures if you're doing multiple exposures. Next it'll either say N or number and that is the total number of exposures that you're going to be doing so you can set that for one, most of them go up to 99 and after 99 you get a little dash dash and that means infinite number of exposures so it'll just keep on running until either your battery dies or you're memory card fills up. And last across the top row of information, there's a little musical note. Almost all of these intervalometers will make a very annoying beep every one second while they're activated so you do have the option to turn off that beep. So, I recommend doing that. It also saves your battery power as well. Okay, so now how about the controls to actually use the thing. Right beneath the top line of data we just talked about is what we call the indicator underscore bar and that basically just shows you which one of these settings you're going to be programming. Now you'll see also that they generally have a little button that says timer start/stop. Pretty self explanatory. That's how you start or stop the intervalometer function and next on the dial to the left side of the start and stop button there is a little button that has a dual purpose. It will turn on the backlight in the LCD dislay. A lot of times the light doesn't really stay on long enough for you to make the adjustments you need to so a lot of times you'll end up having to turn on your headlight to make the adjustment. That light button also serves as a lock. Many of these timers don't have an on/off or a power button and they accidentally get activated in your camera bag and that can drain the batteries so if you press and hold the little light button, it will lock the settings so it can't be inadvertently adjusted. Next in the center of the little wheel is the set button and that's how you actually choose the program or choose the setting that you're going to be using. So, set button when you have a flashing indicator on there or the lights are flashing that tells you that it's being programmed and then you press the set button and it stops. So surrounding the set button is one of these little thumb toggle wheels and you can set or program the values on the indicator. You can by using the up and down navigator so that will allow you change the settings, the number of intervals, the time between shots, or the exposure length and if you move it left or right that will move the underscore bar from one setting to the next. Alright, and lastly down on the bottom you'll notice there's a big fat button with a slider and that is used to bypass the intervalometer function and just use this as a standard cable release. The big fat button on the bottom, you push it down, slide it forward, it locks the exposure in place and this does not allow you to use the delay, the long exposure, the interval, or the numbers settings but it will count up your exposure from zero. So if you use that big fat button it will start at zero and just count up the number of seconds so you can tell how long you have been exposed. Alright and that's it for the intervalometer.

Class Description

The solar system and the magic within it can be seen with more than just a telescope. Capturing the milky way and the movement of the solar systems around us can make for engaging and out of this world photography. In this class you’ll learn:

  • What equipment to use and setting your composition in the field 
  • How to find your focus and exposure in the dark 
  • How to capture star trails and the best opportunities based on the lunar calendar 
  • How to capture the Milky Way and create striking panoramas of the night sky.  
Lance Keimig is the author of Night Photography- Finding Your Way In The Dark and leads photo tours around the world. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Coast Flashlights 25% Off Discount Code

Camera Settings for Milky Way & Aurora Photography

Camera Settings for Night Photography

Film Exposures at Night + Development Guidelines

High ISO Testing

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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The classes are full of extremely important technical information that is delivered in a concise, clear manner. It is very difficult to grasp it all in one sitting. I have taken classes before in photography and I love the learning model with Creative Live .I can go back and review the information at my own pace and take notes as I go- I can even rewind and review if I miss something. This is a great collection of material and I would highly recommend purchasing the entire bundle - great job on the selection of fantastic teachers and putting together such a fabulous package on night photography.


A tremendous amount of information crammed into one single course - it can be only done by CreativeLive! Along with having such a profound knowledge and skills in a particular field, Lance Keimig has an amazing teaching style as well - he is very clear, concise and thorough. I strongly recommend this set of classes to anyone who is interested to acquire some general (or expand their existing!) knowledge of astrophotography and night sky shooting. Last but not the least, I want to congratulate the CreativeLive for teaming up with an excellent instructor to create and deliver this STELLAR and production-wise very demanding course!