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Cottage Dome Time Lapse

2011 October 20

Setting up the CamBLOCK Photo by Josh Owens


I just popped over to the Eastern Sierra the other day to check out fall color and ran into fellow time lapse shooters Dustin Kukuk (aka @DrKanab)and @MindRelic Josh Owens. After a day of scouting aspen groves and shooting some time lapse at Mono Lake, we headed up to Tuolumne Meadows to check out a cool location that I’d shot before. The three of us hauled a whole lot of gear to the top of a beautiful granite dome to shoot night sky time lapse shots.

Although we all used the same camera, the ubiquitous Canon 5D Mark II, there were three different motion control systems that were employeed. Dustin had the Kessler Crane Shuttle Pod, Josh the Dynamic Perception MoCo System, and I was using my CamBLOCK system. All three set-ups allowed for a dolly move of between 8 and 10 feet, and we set up three very different scenes and compositions.

One of our motivations was the moonstrike. After sunset, it would be totally dark by 8 pm but around midnight the half-moon would rise in the east and light up the foreground while still allowing the stars to shine through. These shots would be running for around 8 hours, with the camera slowly moving down the tracks. It was tricky to get the timing right, but I think all three of us got some good stuff.

Here’s my shot, pretty much straight out of the camera.

I wish I had started the shot about an hour later, so I could get some more movement after the moon hit. Overall, it’s what I envisioned two years before, but I just had the timing a little bit off.

I’ve been shooting astro time lapse for a couple of years now, and I’m planning on using this and many other shots in an upcoming “Night Skies” episode of Yosemite Nature Notes. It’s a lot of work to get enough material when you can only get one or two shots per night, and things like moonstrikes only work for a few days a month.

It’s also important to me to that the shot says “Yosemite” and these glacial erratic boulders on the granite domes around Tuolumne Meadows are one of my favorite things about the park. I just might have to go back and do it again!


8 Responses
  1. Steve Ringo permalink
    October 21, 2011

    Cool stuff Steve !!! I think one of these days I am going to have to make it out there.

  2. YosemiteSteve permalink*
    October 21, 2011

    Yes, you must. Colorado is nice and all, but the Sierra Nevada is a very special place.

  3. October 21, 2011

    This is sublime. The erratic boulder on the top of DAF has always intrigued me as well. I just discovered your blog, and really appreciate the videos of places most Yosemite visitors will never see. For fifteen years I have made frequent treks from the Bay Area to Yosemite to climb in the Valley and Tuolumne, but I have never been inside a bergschrund.

  4. YosemiteSteve permalink*
    October 21, 2011

    I’ve also heard that back in the day, several of those boulders on Daff Dome were trundled off the top by an over active Boy Scout troop. Breaks my heart, cuz I love them rocks!

  5. October 21, 2011

    Thanks, Steve — this is wonderful. Puts our little lives in perspective!

  6. Daren permalink
    October 31, 2011

    Awesome video. My favorite erratic has to be the one on top of Turtleback Dome. Very photogenic rock especially if you know someone who boulders.

  7. Lee Ekland permalink
    November 3, 2011

    Thanks for posting. What a marvelous mix of simple and complex elements…Glorious!

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