How to do Time-lapse Photography

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There have been plenty of time lapse videos floating around the interwebs lately and it’s inspiring many photographers to give the medium a go. As with any photography, getting the lighting correct is crucial to the end result. Jay P. Morgan gives a walk through of the lighting setup he used when making a timelapse video:

While your timelapse photography will probably be little different from Morgan’s, there’s still plenty of sound advice in the video. Some of  it even translates into other styles of photography as well. Here are a few highlights from the tutorial:

  • If you’re going to be working outside under the harsh sun, hang a silk over your set. Morgan uses a 20′ x 20′ white silk, hung as close as possible to the ground without it getting in the frame. Hang the silk low and it will diffuse the sun over a larger area of your workspace.
  • Add fill lights as needed to add highlights to objects in your scene. Morgan uses a  Hensel c1000  with an open face softbox on camera right and a simple shiny board on camera left to brighten up the shadows and add interest.
  • Use a timer remote controller to set the intervals at which the shutter will fire. Morgan set his to one frame every 1 second.
  • For smooth pans and sweeps use a slider that can be programmed to move at set distances. These settings are usually very gradual. For instance, Morgan set the timelapse mode on his Kessler slider so that it took 1 hour 15 minutes to travel 3 feet.
  • If you want there to be a focus change in your timelapse video, make a mark on your lens and slider rails to denote where and when to change the focus. After you setup the slider and camera, move your camera down the slider and look at the viewfinder to decide where you want the focus begin changing, use a piece of chalk to mark the position of the slider. When your camera has worked it’s way down to the point, you can begin to manually change the focus. Adjust the focus over a course of images to give a the finished product a nice flowing look. Spread the focus adjustment out over about 8 frames.
time lapse photography

Setting up to capture a time-lapse sequence.

The process of timelapse photography doesn’t have to be too difficult, it’s just time consuming. If you’re new to timelapse photography, start with a short project and work way you up to longer videos.

For Further Training on Time-lapse Photography:

Check out this new COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing and rendering time-lapses using a dslr camera. It can be found here: Time-lapse Photography Guide

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2 Comments

  1. CalTek says:

    Great little video with a nice tutorial. My question would be, other than the camera, what would the cost be of materials to create this. Seems like a lot of expensive stuff to make a short video. Like the idea of switching over to video mode at the end – that is a cool thought.

    Nice if we could have a how to tutorial for those without all the bells and whistles.

    Also curious what program(s) were used in post production to create final product.

  2. HowToDo says:

    Wow!Great list of things that one must be able to do or have in life. It is not hard to decipher everything right, but people do not wish to leave their comfort zones to really learn. It is a nice compilation and crisply told.I’m going to dive into these and learn a few things! Isn’t it funny how using Google effectively is included today with things like building a fire, cooking, and holding a baby? I rely on Google daily so it is a must. Great post!

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