Time lapse photography offers a visually stunning experience for the viewer. It is the meeting ground between videography and photography. You have probably stumbled upon some amazing works of time-lapse and it inspired you to showcase your artistic talent. Creating a time lapse is not as hard as it may seem. Check out our recommendations and tips on how to master this cinematography technique.
What Is Time Lapse Photography?
Time lapse photography is a type of photography that encompasses a sequence of pictures of a subject (mostly landscapes) with an interval of time between each image. The interval can be as short or as long as you want. It can either be a second or a few days even.
When playing back the images, the frequency at which the frames are played will be much faster than the one at which you have captured them. Why? Because time-lapse techniques let us manipulate time and show complex events in just a few seconds, that would otherwise take many minutes, or even days to view completely.
Time Lapse Equipment – The Basics
You can make time lapse photography with pretty much any camera. As long as you can shoot pictures with it, it’s good to go. However, if you want your time lapse videos to look as great as the ones that got you started on the idea in the first place, invest. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are, hands down, the best cameras to use for high-quality, clear images.
The second most important item in your time lapse kit should be the tripod. Time lapse means shooting the same frame over a particular amount of time. Naturally, you want that scene to remain the same. You need a sturdy tripod, preferably a bit on the heavy side, too. It will keep your camera pointing to the same direction and prevent movement.
With the help of a remote timer, you will be able to shoot countless frames at specific intervals without touching the camera. The automated camera trigger will ensure the lowest possible camera vibrations and movements.
How to Prepare Your Time Lapse Shots
Put your camera into manual mode and do the necessary settings yourself.
The aperture controls the depth of field. A smaller aperture means sharper images and reduced bokeh, while a large aperture allows for more light to get in the camera’s sensor, which is best for low-light photography.
ISO translates into the camera’s sensitivity to light. A lower ISO (100-400) is recommended to avoid any noise and keep your pictures clear and crisp. Nonetheless, if you are trying to shoot a night scene, you have to the ISO and prevent your images from coming out too dark.
The shutter speed is the length of time your shutter stays open and lets light in. Long exposures are best for low light scenes or to blur moving subjects, while short exposures are used to capture clear shots.
Shoot in RAW if your camera allows you to. Shooting in this file format gives you more freedom of hand when you download the images onto your computer and go about editing them.
Put your lens in manual mode as well, if you own a DSLR or an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. when using wide angle lens, and you probably do if you want to shoot landscapes, focus to infinity.
Neutral-density filters reduce or modify the intensity of wavelengths without altering the color. Thanks to the reduced light intensity, you can set slower shutter speeds in sunny environments.
Again, if you have a DSLR, take advantage of the Live View function. Live Views is a way to preview framing by being able to visualize your shot in real-time. It also provides the means to control the exposure.
Time Lapse Interval
The time interval between your frames will determine the speed of the video. The interval must be adapted to our scene.
- When shooting moving traffic, you can set the timer to 1-second
- When capturing sunrises, sunsets, or crowds, you can do a 1 to 3-second intervals.
- When photographing stars or the path of the moon across the sky, you can increase the time to 15-30 second intervals.
- Other popular subjects for time lapse photographer are growing plants or rotting fruits/vegetables. Here is when you can set your timer to take longer intervals (90 to 120-second intervals).
The Basics of Shooting Time Lapse
When you have all your gear prepped, it’s time to go out there and start experimenting. Your first few shots won’t be perfect, and it is totally expected. You first pictures should focus more on getting the hang of your camera’s settings.
First, you need to create a frame. Choose your subject and create a visually pleasing scene. Try different angles, take out or place elements in your frame, do everything you feel is necessary to make the composition interesting.
Set your camera to manual mode and make the settings (ISO, white balance, aperture, etc.). Then, determine the time lapse intervals according to what it is that you are shooting, and program the remote timer.
You can then review your settings and get started.
Creating the Time Lapse Video
After going over your head to purchase all the equipment, framing your shot, and spending minutes or hours capturing the scene, it will all pay off when you start compiling the images.
Creating the movie from dozens or hundreds of frames is not complicated at all because you won’t have to do it by hand, naturally. There are plenty of software available on the web that will compile all your shots in just a few seconds.
After importing all the photos onto your computer, start editing a time-lapse photo and then sync the changes across all frames in the sequence. Render the time lapse to a .avi file or any other video format, and you’re done.
Talking about time lapse photography software, here are a few programs you might want to get your hands on: