Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lesson Learned: Time Lapse Part 2

Nikon D600, Nikkor 16-35 f/4 @ 2 sec intervals

While on my recent trip I had a tendency to shoot a little of everything. I would bracket some exposures for HDR, maybe do a panorama, even do a HDR panorama. I experimented with focus stacking, oh and long exposures. I got a pretty neat Hoya 9 stop ND filter. Oh and if the scene warranted those techniques, then why not a time lapse as well?

To be fair, I'm new to at least a couple of these techniques but I was excited to try them out. If you want to do it right, special thought probably needs to go to each of these. Time lapses are no different. Here's a list of things that I MUST remember for each time lapse, because a lapse in memory will kill the shot.
  1. Have plenty of memory on the card for the amount of photos your going to take. In many cases I take 300 photos which gives me 10 seconds of video at 30 fps
  2. Do the math. Calculate the time you'll need to be standing there. For example if you want 300 shots and plan to use a 2 second interval. 300 shots x 2 seconds = 600 seconds. 600 seconds / 60 seconds per minute = 10 minutes. This is especially important if your doing any type of long exposure. Say your doing night photography and you need 30 second exposures. Then you take 30 second exposure + 2 second intervals = 32 seconds. 300 shots x 32 seconds = 9600 seconds. 9600 seconds / 60 seconds per minute = 160 minutes. So in this case... bring a chair.
  3. Put the camera in manual focus mode. You can auto focus to make sure it's set properly, but then switch it to manual. The last thing you want is the camera to be trying to find focus between each shot. Slight variations in focus will cause a zooming effect. This effect will made the video choppy and hard to watch.
  4. Turn off VR, IS, VC, OS or whatever your lens manufacturer calls it. Just like the auto focus causing movement, so can the stabilization. So turn it off.
  5. Take several practice photos to make sure your settings are right. Look at the photo and histogram.
  6. Start the time lapse as a test to make sure everything is working properly. I had a situation where I set the camera to 300 images, only to realize it was counting down by 5. So it went 300, 295, 290, 285, etc. If I would have realized this sooner I could have saved some time and hassle.
I hope this blog post was helpful. Please contact me anytime with any questions. And when you create some beautiful time lapses videos, be sure to get a hold of me so I see your amazing work!