- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group Portraits
- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Timelapses seem to be one of the big things this year in photography. Several have been floating around the web these past few months with subjects ranging from the Aurora Borealis to Central Park during the season change. While these may be a little more technically complicated, basic timelapse videos are not all that hard to make. All you need is a camera with an intervalometer, an interesting subject, and patience.
Location and Timing
This can be just as important as knowing how to capture a timelapse. For one, you need a scene that's interesting for a timelapse video. This requires a different way of thinking since you're not capturing a single moment like usual. A field of flowers may look beautiful for one photo, but may not be too thrilling to watch for several minutes. Movements and changing lights can have a much more dramatic effect on your video than it would with a still frame. So think about the movement in the scene before you starting to capture your timelapse. Look for things like moving people, cars, lights, etc. How will they enter and leave the frame? Is there a highlight of activity for this particular area?
Timing is also important because you'll be shooting over a length of time in which the lighting conditions will most likely change. The easiest way to shoot a timelapse is to set your camera on manual, set the intervalometer, and let it go. However, if there is a dramatic change in light during your exposure, then part of your video will be too bright and/or too dark. This is why many timelapse videos are shot at night. The light doesn't change much, if at all, and you can capture the lights of buildings and moving cars without worrying about your exposure getting off track. If you do want to capture sunrises and such, there are different kinds of hardware and software you can buy that will allow you to make changes to your camera's exposure settings remotely and gradually.
The intervalometer is the key to taking timelapse videos. It's a simple device that tells your camera to take multiple photos over a period of time. Some cameras have built-in intervalometers. If yours does not, you can always purchase an external one. Some of these may even give you the option to change the exposure gradually over time to smooth out changes in lighting conditions. Before you set the intervalometer, it's important to figure out how long you want to shoot for and how long you want your final video to be. Videos typically run at 24 or 30 frames per second. So that means 30 photos will equal one second of video. So if you take 600 photos in four hours, that means you've condensed those four hours into 20 seconds. Some intervalometers (and phone apps) will calculate this for you.
A few other things to take into consideration are shutter speed and the frequency of photos taken compared to your buffer. Shutter speed will affect the overall look of your final timelapse. With a normal/fast shutter speed, you subjects will look static in each shot, though they will change position from frame to frame if moving. With a long shutter speed, your subjects will be blurred and moving lights will cause streaks across the frame.
As for the frequency of photos, the quicker you take them, the closer your video will be to real time. The fewer you take, the faster your video will be. Either way, keep in mind how robust your camera's buffer is and how fast your memory card can write information. Your buffer will store photos temporarily to be written on the card, like a kind of queue. If the queue fills up, your camera will start taking photos much slower until the buffer has more room. A slow card and a small buffer will limit how many and how fast you can take photos.
Perhaps more than anything, creating a timelapse takes patience. So bring a lawn chair and a magazine, and be prepared to wait.
Image credit: ivonnewierink / 123RF Stock Photo
Written by Spencer Seastrom