As a professional timelapse photographer I have spent the last 13 years hearing wonderful comments from those that watch my videos about how many shooting stars there were in the video, only to share with many of them that those were actually airplanes.
When shooting still images I can easily clone out planes that go through a shot - or I can wait for the plane to pass and then capture my exposure. However, when shooting a timelapse sequence where the camera captures hundreds of images sequentially, these same planes may end up appearing in 5, 6, or 7 shots and cloning these out becomes problematic. The issue when removing planes in a night-sky timelapse sequence is that you need to make sure that each area cloned in all frames with a plane don't shift during editing. Even if there's a shift of 1 pixel in any direction, the eye will notice it. Since the earth is constantly rotating the stars are not in the same spot from frame to frame, and it becomes very problematic trying to get the subsequent clone to match. And if there are clouds moving through the scene - even more difficult.
The other issue that Timelapse photographers have been wanting was a way to eliminate high-ISO noise in their timelapses, the way photographers do it with their still images - by aligning the stars then stacking them with nearby sequential images. This stacking technique eliminates the things that change from one photo to the next. Since noise patterns are random from frame to frame, this align-and-stack technique allows software to effectively remove most noise from a series of photographs to create one stunningly clean single image of the night sky.
These are well known techniques that photographers use - but these techniques haven't been available for timelapse, since it would take a huge mount of time to take frames 1-5 of a sequence and stack them together to create a new single clean frame 1, then take frames 2-6 of the sequence to stack and create a single clean
frame 2, and so-on -- all the way through hundreds of images in a sequence.
But about 2 years ago I stumbled upon software called Sequator (Windows only). Sequator, like other night-sky stacking programs, allows you to create stair trails, exposure stacks, and noise reduction stacks. However, it has one feature that all the other stacking programs lack - and that's the ability to stack a folder of sequential images automatically. And while doing so the program has a function, that when checked, will automatically remove planes and satellites when saving the new frames - allow for perfectly clean timelapses of the night-sky, free planes and noise.
Sequator is a free program for Windows computers.
In this vide you can take a look at a timelapse re-rendered
with Sequator (left) and directly out of Lightroom (right).
Register for one of our upcoming night-sky workshops to enhance your night-sky photography and timelapse skills, including classroom instruction on how to use Sequator.
Each night-sky workshop includes daily classroom sessions on post-production where you'll learn how to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, LRTimelapse, and Sequator to elevate your work to a new level. Our classroom sessions also cover planning and scouting using Plan'it Pro!, PhotoPills, Google Earth and Google Maps; How to best set up your camera for night photography; How to use intervalometers and advanced intervalometers; motion control sliders and heads; and how to use camera settings to change the look and feel of your images and sequences.