Time-lapse photography of clouds and other phenomena in the sky

Martin Setvak

Gallery 2022

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My recent timelapsing gear consists of two APS-C cameras: Samsung NX500 (with Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS,Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye II and Asahi Takumar SMC 55mm F2 M42 lenses) and Ricoh GXR camera with its A16 (24-85mm) zoom unit. Comments on why I use these cameras can be found in the Introduction to time-lapse photography page, and my typical settings and additional comments on timelapsing with Ricoh cameras are here. Notes on timelapsing with the Samsung NX500 can be found here.   All the times below are given in UTC (GMT).

Sources of satellite, radar and other meteorological data used below: CHMIEUMETSAT  and  NOAA CLASS.

Note: movie files below, which are stored as .mkv (encrypted here as H.265 RGB) are identical to those stored as .mp4 (here standard H.264 YUV420 encryption), but should have somewhat better quality, namely in fine transitions of the blue sky. However, to play these, you will most likely have to do so outside of your browser, either using a system movie player, or one of the external ones (e.g. MPC-HC or VLC).

2022-01-07  0625 - 1150 UTC  (5h 25m)
Samsung NX 500 & Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye II,  interval 7 seconds, speed 210x

20220107_0625-1150utc_Kacerov_x264_1920x1080.mp4  (134 MB)
20220107_0625-1150utc_Kacerov_x265_1920x1080.mkv   (136 MB, H.265)

Cirrus morning.  Cirrus clouds and waves in these, various halo phenomena, contrails (condensation trails) and their shadows. Visibility of several types of halo phenomena changes here significantly with varying microphysical composition of cirrus clouds passing above. As regards contrails and their shadows, only those contrails which are higher than the regular cirrus clouds cast shadows on these. Moreover, location of the contrail shadows with respect to the contrails themselves depends on their relative position to the Sun.  The timelapse was captured from Praha - Kačerov, Czech Republic.


I was also curious to see how well these contrails can be seen in satellite imagery, namely in the M09 band (1.38 µm) of the VIIRS instrument bands, flown on NPP and NOAA-20 satellites. The 1.38 µm band will be one of the new bands of Flexible combined Imager (FCI) on Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites, first of which (MTG-I1) is to be launched by the end of this year (Dec 2022). To learn what we can expect from FCI data, other recent satellites and their instruments, which already have some of the upcoming MTG FCI new bands, are used - including VIIRS. Also, the RGB Cloud Type image product (below) utilizes the 1.38 µm band. Some examples of utilization of the 1.38 µm band can be found here or here.
  • NPP VIIRS  images and products, 11:50 UTC (time of the end of the timelapse):  I-bands (375m)  RGB125I5 bandBTD I5-I4, M-bands (750m)  M09 (1.38 µm)RGB Cloud Type, RGB 24M. Contrails can be seen very well here, in most of these images, probably best in the RGB 24M. Though, in this case (detection of contrails above or within natural cirrus layers) the 1.38 µm band does not provide any new information, and the same is true for the RGB Cloud Type image product.
For comparison, below are three loops from present MSG-3 (Meteosat Second Generation) satellite, its SEVIRI instrument. Typically, the contrails can be seen well e.g. in the RGB 24M image product, but not in this case:
  • MSG SEVIRI  loops:  RGB VIS-IRRGB 24M and WV6.2 show extent and motion of the cirrus clouds, but none of these is capable of distinguishing the contrails in this case.
More information about various RGBs and other image products from present and future satellites can be found e.g. here:

2022-06-20  0635 - 0720 UTC  (0h 45m)
Samsung NX 500 & Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye II,  interval 4 seconds, speed 120x 

   (54 MB)
20220620_0635-0720utc_roll-cloud_Kacerov_x265_1920x1080.mkv    (57 MB, H.265)

Roll cloud  above Praha - Kačerov, Czech Republic. View ranging from SE-S-W to NW. 

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