Make the time fly

Speed up time by shooting and editing a sunset time-lapse movie

THE MISSION Shoot a sequence of images and turn them into a time-lapse movie
Time needed Shooting time plus two hours editing
Skill level Intermediate
Kit needed Intervalometer (or built-in interval shooting) * Tripod * Time-lapse software


Time-lapse movies are a great way of recording the passing of time, by compressing an event that takes place over hours or even days - such as the movement of clouds across the sky, or day turning into night - into minutes.
 Time-lapse photography essentially enables you to create a flip-book style video, by shooting images over a set period and then playing them back at movie frame rates. As videos are shot at a frame rate of at least 24 frames per second, we need to shoot a lot of images to create a movie of useful length - for just a one-minute video at 24fps, for example, you'll need 1,440 images!
 To capture the images we need to set our camera up to shoot at set intervals - so if we wanted to capture those 1,440 images over a period of two hours we'd need a photo every five seconds. Some cameras, like the EOS 7D Mk II, include an interval timer that will do this automatically; if your camera doesn't have this feature you'll need a remote with an interval shooting setting, or a dedicated intervalometer.
 We've used spot metering to keep the exposure consistent for our shots of the setting sun; it's advisable to keep an eye on your exposures, and use exposure compensation if necessary. We're using Lightroom 5 to  create our time-lapse movie; you can also use Photoshop CS6/CC, or one of the many free time-lapse programs that are available.  

PREPARATION PLAN YOUR SHOOT

Things to check before heading out to capture your time-lapse images

01 COME RAIN OR SHINE


Checking the weather forecast is always advisable before shooting outdoors - and even more so if you're going to be sitting in one spot for a few hours.

02 FOLLOW THE SUN


Checking where the sun will rise and set at your location will help you plan your shoot. The Photographer's Ephemeris website and app can help you here.

03 CHARGE YOUR BATTERY


Make sure your battery is fully charged; a time-lapse shoot will take a long time, and will often require you to capture in excess of 1,000 images.

04 PREPARE FOR THE WORST


Whatever the forecast, make sure you're prepared for rain or falling temperatures. Take a cover for your camera, even if it's just a rain-proof jacket to drape over it.

ESSENTIAL KIT EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A PERFECT TIME-LAPSE

01 TRIPOD


It's essential that your camera doesn't move throughout the lengthy shooting process, so use a sturdy tripod. Make sure it's on a solid footing, and that all the adjustments are fully tightened.

02 INTERVAL REMOTE


Unless your Canon DSLR has a built-in interval timer you'll need a remote control which includes an interval timer, or a dedicated timer called an intervalometer, which connects to your camera.

03 GRAD FILTER


If you're shooting over 1,000 images, bracketing your exposures will be time-consuming and will fill up your memory cards quickly - an ND grad filter will help prevent bright skies from blowing out.

04 MEMORY CARD


Make sure you have a large-capacity memory card or two, as this will enable you to capture Raw images or high-quality JPEGs. Remember to empty and format the cards first.

05 CALCULATOR


Use a calculator to work out your shooting intervals and ensure that you have enough images for your video. Divide the length of time you're shooting over by the number of shots you need.

SHOOTING TECHNIQUE HOW TO CAPTURE YOUR IMAGES

How to shoot a sequence of images that can be easily combined to create a smooth-running movie

01 ACCURATE POSITIONING


Set up your shoot where it won't be disturbed, out of the way of passers by and sheltered from the wind. Use a compass with the Photographers Ephemeris app to work out where the sun will be.

02 ROCK SOLID


Set up your tripod, making sure that it can't move for the duration of the shoot; if necessary, open the legs wider for maximum stability, and hook your bag onto the central post to weigh it down.

03 CHECK YOUR CAPACITY


As a time-lapse video will be viewed on-screen, we don't need ultra-high resolution images. Shoot JPEGs or low-resolution Raw files depending on your camera and card capacity - ensure you have enough space.

04 EXPOSURE SETTINGS


Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (Av) to keep the depth of field constant; your camera will adjust the shutter speed as the light changes. If you prefer to use Manual mode, use Auto ISO.

05 COVER THE VIEWFINDER


During long exposures the viewfinder can leak light and affect metering or cause blemished images. You won't need to use the viewfinder once set up, so cover it using the cap on your lens strap or with some tape.

06 TIMING IS EVERYTHING


Calculate how many images you'll need and how long you're shooting for, and set the interval timer accordingly. We set our remote to shoot every five seconds for just over an hour, giving us 800 images.

INTERVAL REMOTE
We've used a Hama Timer Remote Shutter Release, which connects to your DSLR via a cable. The Hama remote features all of the shooting modes found in your camera along the bottom of its screen, plus, at the top of the screen, additional Delay and Interval Shooting options. Use the arrow keys to move between the functions, and the centre button to select them. Use the same controls to set the interval time, and press the play/stop button to begin shooting.

TIME-LAPSE TREATMENT TIMELY SUBJECTS

You can make time-lapse movies of all kinds of subjects and scenes…

01 OPENING FLOWERS


This popular time-lapse can take up to a week to shoot, depending on the flower. You'll need to set up your shoot in a quiet space with no air currents to prevent the flowers moving around; placing the stems in florist's foam will help to keep them still. The lighting needs to be constant too.

02 DECAYING FOOD


The timescale for this will vary depending on the food - you can save time by buying fresh food, such as fruit or bread, that's close to its sell-by date. As with flowers, set up the shoot with constant lighting in a location where the camera can be left in place for several days.

03 DAY-TO-NIGHT CITY SCENE


Another popular choice for time-lapse photography is a bustling city - as with our sunset this requires images shot at shorter intervals over a shorter period. Shoot from a high vantage point, use Manual shooting mode, and use Auto ISO to balance the exposures.

EDITING CREATE YOUR TIME-LAPSE MOVIE

How to edit your time-lapse sequence and turn it into a video using Lightroom 5

TIME-LAPSE TEMPLATES
To create a time-lapse using Lightroom 5 you first need to download Adobe's free time-lapse templates from the 'LRBplugins' website: http://lrbplugins.com/shop/presets/lrb-timelapse-presetstemplates. In the LRB Timelapse folder there will be two further folders - you need 'Slideshow Templates> User Templates'. This folder includes options for a variety of frame rates per second, enabling you to choose how quickly your images are played back.

 

CREATE A COLLECTION


Import your images, select all (Ctrl+A), and click the '+' icon on the Collections panel to create a new collection.

EDIT YOUR IMAGES


Select one image, go to Develop, and make any necessary edits, such as using the Spot Removal tool to erase lens marks.

BATCH EDITING


With one image edited, select all the images you want to change and click 'Sync Settings' to apply the edits to those images.

FILTER YOUR IMAGES


Scroll through the images and delete any that don't work in the sequence. Go back to Develop to alter individual images.

IMPORT YOUR TEMPLATE


Go to Slideshow view, right-click on the Templates panel, select 'Import...' and locate and import your template (see above).

EXPORT YOUR MOVIE


Select the frame rate template you want; we used 25fps. Select 'Export video' and set the resolution for your screen; we used 1080p.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.