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Getting started with time lapse photography

28 March 2015 | John White Book Accommodation

My first constant exposure time lapse taken from Kameeldoring treehouse in Mokala National Park

 

If you are shooting your first time lapse then a good place to start is a time lapse where the exposure (light conditions) do not change or change very little over the course of the time lapse. This type of time lapse is relatively straight forward. It just requires finding an interesting subject and adjusting your intial camera settings for the correct exposure. For this sort of time lapse, keep it simple and shoot in JPEG mode and use the free Picasa software to render the images into a video file.

Here's a few tips to help get you started. 

Pre-Setup checklist 

  1. -Decide what you are going to photograph
  2. -Decide on the frame rate (image interval) according to what you are shooting
    • -Fast moving objects – 0.5 to 5 seconds
    • -Slower moving objects – 5 to 15 seconds
    • -Very slow, low light shooting – 10 to 30 seconds
  3. -Remember that your shutter speed is limited by your frame rate and the time it takes your camera to get ready for the next shot. E.g. If your frame rate is 10 seconds, your longest possible exposure will be about 8 seconds when you include about 2 seconds for your camera to prepare for the next shot. If you are transitioning from light to dark, this becomes really important as it will impact on your ability to change the ISO, aperture and shutter speed between images.

 

Setup Checklist

  1. -Set camera to manual mode
  2. -Turn off AWB (Auto White Balance) by changing it to the most suitable manual setting
  3. -Reduce JPEG image size if you have a small memory card or space limitations on your computer. You cannot go below your video output resolution though e.g. HD video is 1920 * 1080.
  4. -Turn off image/lens stabilization (avoids small movements in the lens)
  5. -Set desired aperture
  6. -Place camera on tripod
  7. -Use sandbags to secure/stabilize the tripod if it is windy
  8. -Focus on subject and then turn off autofocus (avoids small changes in focus)
  9. -Take test photos and adjust ISO and shutter speed for correct exposure
  10. -Set your frame rate on your built-in or external intervalometer (remote shutter release)
  11. -Set the number of frames you want to take. Or just select the infinity option and let it run until you choose to stop the time lapse.

 

Post Production

Post production using Picasa to render your JPEGs into time lapse video is really simple. Just follow the steps below:

  1. -Download and install Picasa
  2. -Import the time lapse images onto your PC
  3. -Open Picasa and add the folder that contains your images (File, Add folder to Picasa)
  4. -Select the folder you have just imported and click the following on the top menu: Create, Video, From Selection
  5. -Select Time Lapse from the Transition Style menu
  6. -Set the slide duration to 1/25 Sec (PAL) or 1/30 (NTSC)
  7. -I would recommend setting the dimensions to 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  8. -Select ‘Full frame photo crop’. This will chop off the top and bottom of the image. If you don’t select this, your video will have black sections on the left and right of the frame.

 

Good luck with your time lapse!