VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Gorgeous New Dreamlapse From Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa Lakebed

In January, we posted a “dreamlapse” video made in Death Valley by Sunchaser Pictures. Some 9,600 Facebook users clicked the “like” button. Today, I received notice from Sunchaser’s Gavin Heffernan that part 2 has just been released (view above).

In an email, Heffernan wrote: “This time our timelapse adventure took place at the infamous sliding stones of Racetrack Playa Lakebed in Death Valley, where we got lots of cool shots of the stones themselves, as well as some epic starscape stuff — including a desert aurora, crazy star trails, and an awesome milky way pass. The initial intention was for this all to be done in one shoot with the Dunes of Part 1 — but time restrictions and work etc. caused us to split up the shoots — and so we visited the Racetrack on March 17-19th 2013 to film this second installment. Try to watch in HD and with headphones if you can! :)”

(Related: “Pictures: What Drives Death Valley’s Roving Rocks?“)

Heffernan added, “It’s a crazy place to shoot at, as the horizon is so strangely uneven/malleable. I don’t know if the valley was cut by water or underground magma, but it’s almost impossible to find a straight horizon. In many cases it took me 5 to 10 times as long as usual to try and ‘straighten’ the camera.”

EarthSky pointed out that the pink aurora seen at 1:36 and 2:22 “was made possible due to a CME [coronal mass ejection] that happened the night of March 17, 2013 and is a rarity at latitudes as far south as Death Valley.”

The Sunchaser team also had a friend follow them around to make a four-minute “behind the scenes doc” called “STARCHASERS: BEHIND THE DREAMLAPSE“:



Death Valley dreamlapse
Still from Death Valley Dreamlapse 2


Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.


  1. Sky Sounds Australia
    May 10, 2013, 10:40 am

    I love the top 2/3rds of every shot once the sun goes down, but all the lightspill from people and cars in the foreground is killing me. Sorry to be critical of such a beautifully executed timelapse, the technical prowess on display here is top class, you obviously have equipment at hand I’d drool all over, the location is stunning and here’s the but, but I personally think the Sunchaser Crew could have done better.

    And I sincerely hope you do, just stay out of shot next time please.

    PS love the score. Bravo!

    “better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.” Confucius

  2. Jonathan Berube
    Los Angeles
    May 1, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Very nice work! Smooth sound track too.

    Here are 360 HDR from the same location 🙂



  3. Michael Moss
    April 30, 2013, 12:06 pm

    Very awe-inspiring! I am a fan of the first “Dreamlapse” video. Such images of the night sky can bring a tear to my eye.

    I have been known to star gaze many of nights. Armed with only my astrology binoculars and an 8″ reflector telescope. My 9 year old son has seem to inherit my passion for star gazing. So much, that I am dragged to the door each night simply to check if it is a good night for viewing.

    Some day soon, I would love to take my son to a place with as little light pollution as possible. (such as in your video.) It will be a memorable experience for us both.

    Thank you for the videos.

  4. Jeremy Hayes
    London, Ontario, Canada
    April 30, 2013, 1:01 am

    Great time lapse footage! Especially the stretching of the stars… Turned it into a Desktop background.

    Question: What causes the Bolder’s on the mud cracked ground to appear as though they have moved,l leaving the snail trail that they do? I am really curios as to why and how this happens. Is it cause of the winds, and the morning dew, and the surface under the rocks, or mud chunks, is liquified, then blown along by the wind?

    Please get back to me on this if you could, as My daughter thinks that they are alive, and come alive at night and walk… Again any feedback that you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Avid Science and Space enthusiast,
    Jeremy Hayes