A Phenomenal Death Valley Dreamlapse 2

After the unbelievable response to our first Death Valley Dreamlapse, our team returned for Part 2, this time going deeper, to the mysterious and unexplained sliding stones of Racetrack Playa. No UFOs this time (we think) but plenty of wonder and amazement, including some insane star trails, a beautiful Milky Way pass over the lakebed and an incredible pink desert aurora!

We also tried out some new timelapse techniques, like moonpainting the foreground landscapes (0:53–1:20), and also some experiments merging regular timelapse footage with star trails—a technique we’ve been calling starscraping (1:07–1:33). If it has an actual name, let us know! Star trails were shot at 25-second exposures. No special effects used, just the natural rotation of the earth’s axis.

The pink aurora first makes an appearance during the star trails shot at 1:36 and later in more detail at 2:22. Since we didn’t even know auroras were possible this far south, we did some research and learned there was a CME (Coronal Mass Eruption) solar event that night (March 17) which likely triggered what we see. Read more at Universe Today. If anyone has any additional theories/insight, we’d love to hear more! To learn more about the mysterious sliding rocks, read here.

Watch in HD with headphones on and the volume cranked, if you can. Hands and arms inside the cart at all times!


Shot and edited by: Gavin Heffernan
Producers: Michael Darrow, Rachel Payne, Ben Dally, John Brookins
Associate Producers: Michael Leland, Briana Nadeau, Adam Jeremy Williams
Music: “Stay Down (Ambient)” by Moby (license courtesy MobyGratis.com)
Behind the Scenes Doc: Shot, edited and produced by John Brookins.
Cameras: two Canon EOS 5Dmkii, with a 24mm/1.4 lens & 28mm/1.8
Photography-merging software: StarStaX

The Sunchaser team is currently seeking sponsorship for future adventures. For more info, email info@sunchaserpictures.com. To see other Sunchaser Pictures timelapses, visit our album here.


A Canadian-born indie filmmaker working in Los Angeles (primarily in the horror genre), Heffernan is also an avid timelapse photographer with a collection of acclaimed projects, including his Joshua Tree Journey series and a number of other popular works of astrophotography and experimentals. His timelapses and other videography can also be found on the festival circuit in his popular Devolution series, a still-incomplete trilogy of shorts examining the cost of mankind's progress. Follow him at: Sunchaser Pictures, Facebook and Twitter.


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