How to Do Timelapse

All of us have seen timelapse photography sequences. Timelapses of sunsets, construction, the Aurora Borealis, etc. They’re beautiful, often very dramatic, and the best part is that they’re not very hard to do. Potentially, they can get very difficult depending on the changing light and you subject(s). But capturing a basic timelapse is actually very simple. Photographer Richard Harrington goes through all the basics you need to get started taking your own timelapse videos. Everything from the equipment you’ll need, to controlling the light, to making your videos look great in post:

Basic Equipment Needed

  • Intervalometer – This is the device that will allow you to take timelapse shots. It lets you set how many shots you want and how long you want to shoot. Some cameras have built-in intervalometers. If yours does not, you can buy an external intervalometer.
  • Sturdy Tripod – You don’t want your camera to move at all during your timelapse. Every frame should match up, and if you bump your camera, or if the wind blows it over, or if your tripod head creeps down, then your timelapse will be ruined (or at least extremely difficult to fix in post).
  • High-speed Memory Cards – Since you’ll be taking a lot of photos, you need a memory card that can write information very quickly. Without a fast card, your camera’s buffer will fill up. Once it starts to get full, it may take photos slower, or stop taking photos until the queue of previous photos has been written.
  • Calculator – There’s a little math involved in figuring out how long you want your timelapse to be and how often you need to take a shot. If you can’t quite figure it out, there’s an app for that.
  • Extra Battery Power – Whether you have an extra battery grip or a way to plug your camera into a power outlet, you’ll need some extra juice for those extended timelapses.
  • Weather Protection – If you’re going to be shooting outside for days, or shooting in the rain, make sure your camera is safe from the elements.
night time timelapse

Using a slow shutter speed can create light streaks from moving cars

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