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New Timelapse Video: “Tempest” Pits Stars Against Storms

Just as in real estate, it seems the key to amazing astrophotography is location, location, location.

Being able to shoot in the dark, open plains of central South Dakota, for example, allowed Randy Halverson to create a stunning new timelapse video he’s dubbed “Tempest Milky Way.”

As advertised, the reel captures the tranquil beauty of the Milky Way basically getting smacked in the face by roiling thunderstorms.

Aside from showcasing an incredible sense of place, the video is a study in lighting control.

Capturing fields of stars against fields of flowers means long exposure times, in Randy’s case, 30 seconds at f2.8 for most of the star shots. And that’s at ISO settings of 1600 to 3200.

Then, having the sky get interrupted by brilliant flashes of lightening means dialing back some to about 20- to 25-second exposures and crossing your fingers the frames don’t get totally overexposed.

You’re also hoping any oncoming storm doesn’t wreck your gear: For this video Randy was working with multiple cameras and a dolly, a setup that needs to be carefully placed and then left alone to get the right shots.

“In one instance, within a minute of picking up the camera and dolly, 70mph [112 kph] winds hit,” Randy writes in his video caption. But “one storm was perfect, it came straight towards the setup, then died right before it reached it.”

Set this video to HD and make it full screen to judge for yourself whether the star-storm combo is successful.

You can also spot a few timelapse “Easter eggs” if you look closely: At one point a white-tailed deer makes an appearance on the grassy horizon, and at another a bright meteor gets reflected in a small pond.

Picture by Randy Halverson


  1. Juan Alberto Sosa
    Buenos Aires Argentina
    September 30, 2012, 10:24 am

    Extraordinario me gusta mucho, gracias. JAS.

  2. James
    September 7, 2011, 4:51 am

    @ICON1111111 the music is Tempest by Simon Wilkinson at thebluemask.com

  3. Riana
    Brisbane, Australia
    September 1, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Awesome work! Thanks for sharing..

  4. guillaume
    August 29, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I’m curious, the picture afre very sharp for a 2.8 aperture..? also you said tyhe “most” of the shot were taken at 30-20sec exp.. is this because you shot on Av mode?

    Very nice video!

    Thank you

  5. karen kubican
    August 28, 2011, 4:39 pm

    wow talk about inspiration!

  6. ICON1111111
    August 28, 2011, 4:25 pm


  7. Зоя
    August 28, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Таинственная красота! Чудо!

  8. Francoise Welch
    August 28, 2011, 7:30 am

    The Milky Way , La Voie Lactee : One of the best video I have ever watched, and the music is great !! Une des plus belles videos que j’ai vues, et la musique n’est pas mal non plus !! Enjoy, Regalez vous xxx

  9. Dylan
    August 28, 2011, 1:12 am

    so very very cool loved it 🙂

  10. Marv Muñoz
    Costa Rica
    August 28, 2011, 12:44 am

    That is simply amazing!!! It looks totally surreal!

  11. Cathy Aeria
    Melbourne, Australia
    August 27, 2011, 11:48 pm

    WOW! Awesome… thank you for sharing.

  12. sam harrison
    United States
    August 27, 2011, 11:29 pm

    Beautiful!! So many stars. The storm and the meteor was great. What kind of camera do you have?

  13. Muriel Goldston
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    August 27, 2011, 10:10 pm

    Breath taking, beautiful…..this video has it all. Fantastic!

  14. edgar ubalde
    edmonton, alberta
    August 27, 2011, 12:28 am

    totally awesome!!! i couldn’t believe you could capture all those stars and even the stellar clouds of our galaxy in detail. nice camera work. i hope i could do that as well! i haven’t seen so much stars like that even with a good telescope!

  15. Bill Henry
    Hanover Twp. Beaver Cy. Pa. USA
    August 25, 2011, 5:09 pm

    At 1:59 into the video a buck walks into the field.

  16. Bill Henry
    Hanover Twp. Beaver Cy. Pa. USA
    August 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Great Video, did see navigation bar, will enlarge and replay.

  17. Ryan
    August 25, 2011, 7:00 am

    Woah! This is nice. Music is a bit cheesy, but the shots are amazing. I’m building a time-lapse controller that can do this kind of stuff from Arduino. I can post a link here when it’s done if that’s kosher. 🙂

  18. Ameer
    August 24, 2011, 10:56 pm

    Awesome Video Victoria,watched Tempest in full screen. I personally like to feel where we are in this universe thinking of looking at myself from a view from above the earth.This video is really got great quality,Continue with the great work:).

  19. pam rose
    sioux falls
    August 24, 2011, 8:48 pm

    Could I enlarge it? I can’t see most of it because it’s black. Love those snips that break thru.

    • Victoria Jaggard
      August 24, 2011, 9:06 pm

      Yes, of course! When you hover your cursor over the video, you should see a navigation bar pop up at the bottom. Click on the icon to the left of the word “vimeo” with four radiating arrows to make the video full screen.