During the past couple of years the visiting crews of the International Space Station (ISS) shot some truly awe-inspiring time-lapse sequences flying over practically every square mile of the globe.

Perhaps not busy enough with my own time-lapse projects, I downloaded the high-resolution image sets made available by the NASA Johnson Space Center and constructed this short time-lapse film.

The film project required the processing of more than 84GB of data (amounting to more than 66K JPEG images). It could be easily appreciated that the astronauts encountered very challenging lighting conditions in orbit. Often, it was necessary for the ISS crew to shoot at high ISO values in order to achieve the desired exposure. In order to get the smooth, contrasty look I was aiming for, I used the tools provided by Adobe Lightroom to increase contrast and drastically reduce the noise in the NASA images. The results speak for themselves, as the opening sequences could almost justify a subtitle like “Alien Earth Edition”, such is the surreal nature of these unique views of our home planet from the perspective of the ISS in low earth orbit.

Images courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center available here.

Cameras: Nikon D2X and D3S

Lenses: 28-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 17-35mm f/2.8, 28mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4

Technique: The majority of the images were shot at 1 second intervals, ISO 200-12800.

Post Processing:
:: Downloaded more than 40K hi-res images from NASA for this project
:: Image sets adjusted in Adobe Lightroom 4 (i.e. exposure, contrast and noise reduction)
:: Image sets imported into an Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 2K 24p project
:: Used GBDeflicker for the image sets with shorter exposure times. Highly recommended.
:: Exported as 2048×1024 24p MP4 @ 35Mbps

Soundtrack: “Sunlight” by machinimasound.com licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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