TIME LAPSE PHOTOGRAPHY

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Greetings Readers,

I apologize, it has been quite sometime since my last post (*see NAB 2011) and I hope to get back into the groove of providing new content regularly on the blog.

I’ve been tinkering around with time lapse photography recently and just wanted to share some of the things that I am learning along the way so that maybe they will be helpful to others. This is my first real attempt at time lapse photography and I made sure to read up on it a bit before trying, but still found that I was lacking in terms of the amount of time and patience needed, so once I experiment some more and get the results I want, I’ll come back and edit this post. Below you can view my tiny experiment with a time lapse video of the night sky with rolling clouds and the moon.

I didn’t have nearly the amount of time to dedicate to this particular experiment as I would have liked but I’m not too disappointed in the way it turned out. Especially considering it was just a test to begin with. One should account for at least a few hours to create a solid time lapse, and consider your environment as a factor as well. Also, think about how long you would like the end product to be versus how long your exposures are and how often the camera will be capturing photos. Until recently, I didn’t think I had a way to program my DSLR camera for time lapse photography without an intervelometer. The Canon T2i (and most DSLR cameras) come with software that is VERY useful, I had taken this software for granted until recently. I was able to connect my camera to my laptop and program the time lapse through the camera’s software just the way I wanted it. The downside being you have to have the camera connected to the laptop, which is NOT ideal, but it works well in certain situations and is a more budget-friendly method than purchasing an intervelometer. Here is a nice tutorial on setting the T2i up for time lapse via it’s own software.

For this night sky time lapse, I decided to do 20 second long exposures every 30 seconds and ended up with 125 photos. This took about an hour and 15 minutes, and with 125 photos at 24 frames per second, the video was right around 5 seconds long (however I slowed the track down slightly to get an extra second out it). I made sure to change the picture quality to JPEG instead of RAW. The big advantage with this is the file size. You will be taking hundreds of photos for a time lapse and you don’t want to have to deal with hundreds of large sized RAW files when converting for video. Granted, there are times when you would want to do this, but that is another beast to deal with at a later time. So, I set my tripod up on the porch, aimed it at the moon, and started the programmed time lapse. With the naked eye, no stars were visible in the sky. But as you can see with the time lapse video, there are definitely stars in the sky. Leaving the shutter open for 20 seconds allowed the camera to expose them 🙂

There will be more to come once I practice some more, but I just wanted to share this and hopefully inspire someone to try out time lapse photography. Below you can find some helpful tips that I’ve learned along the way, thanks for reading.

Tips:

• Shoot in JPEG mode, not RAW as you will be taking hundreds (if not thousands) of photos for your time lapse
• Count on spending hours on this, consider how much time you want to capture in the time lapse
• It’s a given, but use a tripod and a very sturdy one that will not move with the wind or vibrate with people walking around
• You want a controlled environment, you will be there for quite sometime and you don’t want people walking around you and your equipment
• Long exposures (low shutter speed) are ideal
• Never shoot for time lapse in an auto mode, settings may adjust automatically in an unfavorable way
http://3exposure.com/ is a great resource for learning about time lapse photography

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