Time lapse photography

What is it?

Time lapse photography is a technique that involves taking lots of still images and then using the images to make a short video.

Generally a time lapse photography would be taken on a tripod of a scene where things are moving through the scene, a building being erected, a sunrise or the stars moving across the sky. The images are taken with some sort of remote picture taking mechanism like an intervalvometer.  If you ever watched any of the Wallace and Gromit movies, this sort of animation is time lapse. You could also have the camera mounted on a sliding rail so the camera moves between the frames to give a different effect.

How do I use it on my camera?

You will need to pick a location that will allow you to get the movement you want, the simplest is the clouds moving across the sky and the sun rising or setting in a sunrise or sunset. You will need a tripod and a remote shutter cable with a intervalvometer, this is a device that will allow you to set the number of images you take and the timing between the images. Depending on the make and model of your camera, some are now incorporating this feature into the camera.

The next step is to set up, and sit back and take the pictures. Video plays at 24 fps (frames per second), that’s industry speak for every second of video you watch has 24 still pictures in it, so if you want to create a 1 minute time lapse of a sunset you will need 60 (seconds) x 24 (frames) = 1440 images. Stretching a sunrise over 1 minute though may be a little too long, so making it much shorter may be better.

So you will need a few things other than the tripod and intervalvometer, before you start you will also need to have a fully charged battery, a memory card big enough to capture all the images, note that 1080p video or “HD” is 1920×1080 pixels, or approximately 2 mega pixels! Yes most cameras are at 3 to 15 times larger in megapixel size. So you could reduce the image size in your camera to allow the memory card to hold more images without reducing the quality of the video.

So how do I set up the camera? Depending on the type of scene you have selected it may be as simple as using the camera in Aperture Priority mode and allowing the camera to set the rest of the settings, note that if you are doing a sunset, the images will get darker as the sun sets, so you need to factor what the last images settings will be in order to make sure all the images work. A simple way of making sure the camera gets the same style of images across the entire set of images, is to use auto ISO so that as it gets darker the camera adjusts the ISO to suit.

Once all the images are taken, you will need to use video production software to make a slideshow, both Windows and Apple users will have inbuilt free software that will do this.

Here are a few of the images that were taken for the video.

Time lapse photographyDicky Beach:  Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 1600 F4 30 seconds.

Time lapse photographyDicky Beach:  Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 1600 F4 30 seconds.

Time lapse photographyDicky Beach:  Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 1600 F4 30 seconds.

Try This

Find a spot where the sun sets or rises and you can take about 10 minutes of images as the sun rises, remember to be set up just before the sun breaks, take a photo every half a minute for ten minutes that’s only 20 shots and you could do that manually without the intervalvometer, using the 10 second self timer. Most windows and mac computers come with movie making software that will allow you to put the images together and make a video.

What are your thoughts?