Time-lapse is a photographic technique designed to create the impression of something happening very quickly – with time-lapse photography techniques you can manipulate images to make it appear as though a slow snail is pacing across the screen.
With time-lapse photography techniques, the photographer takes a series of stills of the same frame at consistent intervals for a certain amount of time. The stills are then made into a sequence which is then played quickly to create a video. Typically, time-lapse photographers capture processes that usually occur very slowly. Then, with time-lapses, we can lapse time to make the sun rise and set quickly, or watch green summer leaves turn brown and fall in a minute. However, time-lapses can also make fast movements even faster, such as fast-moving traffic.
In this post dedicated to time-lapse photography, we will be looking at:
- Time-lapse photography best ideas
- Time-lapse photography kit
- Which camera is the best for time-lapse photography?
- Time-lapse photography professional tips
Time-lapse photography best ideas
If you’re looking to create an interesting time-lapse, here are some time-lapse photography examples:
- A time-lapse of the rising sun
- A time-lapse of the setting sun
- A time-lapse of stars moving across the night sky
- A time-lapse of clouds drifting across the sky
- A time-lapse of a blossoming flower
- A time-lapse of ice melting
- A time-lapse of a building in construction from start to finish
- A maternity time-lapse of an expectant mother’s growing baby bump
- A time-lapse of an artist painting
- A time-lapse of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon
- A time-lapse of traffic on the motorway
- A time-lapse of boats moving across the sea
Time-lapse photography kit
Here’s what you need to practice time-lapse photography.
Ideally, you will be using a DSLR to create your time-lapse, but you can also achieve the same results with a compact camera. The important factor is using a camera that can shoot in Manual. There are also specially designed time-lapse cameras that can compile stills into a time-lapse video in-camera. It may be worth investing in a time-lapse camera if it’s something you are looking to do frequently.
The lens you use could be anywhere from 14mm-200mm, but it depends on the scope of your time-lapse.
You will need a sturdy tripod to stabilise your camera-specific intervals for a set amount of time, so you don’t have to measure the time and press the shutter manually. Many modern cameras have intervalometers.
High-capacity memory cards
To create a time-lapse, you have to take multiple high-quality images, which will drain your storage. When you’re taking a lot of RAW images you will need some high-capacity memory cards to store your files.
Time-lapse photography software
If you’re using a DSLR or CSC camera, you will need some software to help assemble your final time-lapse film. Check out our article on time-lapse software for our recommendations.
Which camera is the best for time-lapse photography?
The best camera for time-lapse hobbyists and pros alike is the Brinno Empower TLC2020. The TLC2020 is specifically designed for time-lapses by Brinno, and this new and improved model of the Empower allows users to capture up to 82 days’ worth of footage at one frame per 5 minutes. Other notable features are the 2-inch screen, its 2 spare batteries, interchangeable CS-mount lenses, and accessories such as the BARD monopod/clamp, waterproof housing, and a motorised turntable.
The camera captures stills at a 2MP resolution, a video resolution of 1080p, and records videos at a length of up to 60 seconds. As well as the excellent features it comes with, its set-up is very user-friendly, as the rear-mounted monitor tells the user clearly how many seconds of footage per hour are being recorded. Mode names on the camera can help users choose the appropriate recording speed.
Time-lapse photography professional tips
Here are some of our best tips to help you create your time-lapse.
Shoot in Manual
Shooting in Automatic Mode for this type of photography is not ideal. Shooting in Manual Mode gives you total control over each shot, whereas automatic will choose the settings for you, and won’t be able to adjust to the light perfectly. This will result in varying levels of light in each shot as the camera is unable to adjust consistently, resulting in a flickering effect when you watch the final time-lapse video. To keep the lighting even throughout your time-lapse, you should shoot in Manual.
Choose the right aperture
The right aperture for your time-lapse will require some experimentation on your part. It all depends on what kind of time-lapse you are shooting. If you’re shooting something up-close, such as a blossoming flower, or a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, you may want to create a shallow depth of field, to blur out the background and focus your subject in the frame. This would require a low f-stop of about f/1.4 to f/5.6. However, if you’re shooting multiple subjects, such as many cars on the motorway, you may want to create a deep focus to keep all subjects sharp; this could be any aperture value from f/8 to f/16.
Choose a slower shutter speed
Fast apertures e.g. 1/100 or faster can make your subjects look quite jumpy. To create a smoother time-lapse, try a slower shutter speed e.g. 1/50 which may seem slow, but will make your final time-lapse appear steadier. Generally, when making time-lapses, you should double your frame rate, so if you were shooting at 25 FPS, you would use a shutter speed of 1/50.
When creating time-lapses, we would recommend using a low ISO to avoid graininess. If you’re shooting in low-light conditions, consider using artificial lighting, as this will prevent you from having to use a higher ISO, which will add too much noise to your time-lapse.
When planning your time-lapse production, you will need to consider the number of frames per second as your intervals. Fast-moving subjects will only need short intervals, such as 1-3 second intervals, to create a smooth time-lapse film. A slow-moving subject will require longer intervals, such as 5-30 second intervals.
We hope you enjoyed our ideas and tips for time-lapse photography!
If you need an expert photographer to help you create a time-lapse film to a professional standard, book with Splento. We will provide you with a reliable, professional photographer at an affordable rate, at your convenience. Contact us today to discuss your project with a member of the team.
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