Here it is, the Time-Lapse Photography Challenge. I had big plans for this PhotoChallenge. I wanted to film a few how-to examples myself. To do so I ended up postponing this challenge and did the Photographic wheel of fortune for Week 5. Not only did I not succeed in creating the content I wanted, but I was also met with every obstacle Mother Nature could throw at me down to take cover warnings for Tornado Alerts. Here’s a little video documenting one of my little ordeals, I entitled it The Curse of the 2021 Trevor Carpenter PhotoChallenge.
We’ve dabbled in Time-Lapse Photography in the past. I realize the end product is a video and that many devices today create time-lapses and hyperlapses directly to video.
There is however a photographic art to time-lapse photography. It’s not just an accelerated video, it’s carefully planned photography put together to create a smooth accelerated video effect.
There are 3 approaches to this week’s challenge.
- Create a series of images processed with LightRoom and LRTimelapse to create a Time-Lapse.
- Create a series of images processed with a photo editor and assembled in a video editor to create a Time-Lapse.
- Create an in-camera Time-Lapse.
The common ground between all three approaches
Since our end product will be a video, we need to respect some guidelines to give the video fluidity that in turn will help create a smooth-looking time-lapse.
Standard internet video has 30 frames per second (30 Pictures per second), in a nutshell, we shoot at 1/60th to create some motion and fluidity as each frame transitions to the other. We simply double the frame rate. PAL users would shoot at 1/50th since their frame rate is 25. For 60 frames per second, you’d be shooting at 120th of a second.
In order to accomplish this, you may need a VND or ND filter set, especially in bright daylight. It depends on how low you can bring your ISO settings and your desired aperture settings or overall aperture restrictions.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with sunglasses to limit the amount of light that enters your lens as VND and ND filters are just that, sunglasses for your lens. (I recommend using gaffer tape VS duck tape)
I encourage you to experiment as I’ve used a Freewell ND1000 filter on a DJI Osmo Action Camera to get long exposures that work especially well with flowing water such as rivers and fountains.
Thie following numbers are pretty much the guidelines I stick to when shooting a time-lapse. They’re important as they help with exposure to create the flow of movement you want out of your time-lapse video.
A. Fast moving clouds, Waves & Busy City Streets – 0.5 to 1 second intervals
B. Slow-moving clouds – 2 to 10 second intervals
C. Sun and Moon moving across sky – 15 to 30 second intervals
D. Stars and Milky Way – 15 to 60 second intervals
E. Sunset / Sunrise / Moonset / Moonrise – 2 to 4 second intervals
Here’s an example of a 1/2 second interval and a 2-second interval on clouds moving at the same speed.
Remember that each second of footage will need 30 pictures. Therefore 300 pictures will give you 10 seconds of footage. We’re looking for anything between 10 and 15 seconds for the challenge this week.
Technically the faster it moves the shorter the interval. Naturally, with long exposures, you may have to adjust to these guidelines as you need to allow time for the exposure and for your camera to process the image and be ready to shoot again. You have to be careful not to fill your buffer up. If you do, you will encounter a variance in the interval to the point where you can’t complete your time-lapse.
It’s important to use the fastest card your camera can support. You may also need to shoot in JPG if your buffer is small and tends to bog down. Larger RAW files tend to accumulate quickly especially with high megapixel Pro Cameras.
As one last common ground between your 3 choices will be some of the tools you’ll need.
1. TRIPOD or some stable support for your camera
2. Gimbal, motorized panning, or slider for a moving Time-Lapse
3. OPTIONAL – Intervalometer for older cameras
4. OPTIONAL – Remote to control camera shutter
5. OPTIONAL – ND, VND, or DIY variation
6. OPTIONAL External Power Source
Make sure you have a fully charged battery to complete your time-lapse sequence. Many newer cameras allow connecting an external power connection while shooting such as a portable battery back via USB to keep the camera powered on longer for longer sequences.
Plan your time-lapse and location as best as possible. There are apps that will give you the location of the sun and the moon at any given time like LUMOS for IOS or SUN Locator for Android. Also, check the weather for wind speed and clouds. Decide what your subject will be, city, nature, out of a window, the whole day, 20 minutes, 1 hour… It’s important to do the math based on your interval to know how long you need to shoot to get a 10 second minimum time-lapse.
1. Time Lapse Calculator – Pro-Lapse (pro-lapse.com)
2. Timelapse Calculator | PhotoPills
3. Free Online Calculator for Time-Lapse makers — Time Lapse Network
Another example of preparation is if you’re going to shoot a time-lapse of ships, don’t just show up on the seaway and expect a ship to pass by. Scout your location using mapping software. Then take a look at the ships online to better plan your outing.
Here’s a site that gives you weather and ship tracking online.
That’s how I planned the Time-Lapse below…
DEFINING YOUR 3 CHOICES
USING LRTimelapse and Lightroom
To really focus on the photography aspect, I highly suggest that Lightroom users download the evaluation copy of LRTimelapse.
This is by far the apogee of timelapse software. The evaluation copy will allow you to use a maximum of 400 images to create your time-lapse. This will be more than enough images to create the minimum 10 seconds of time-lapse we need for this week’s challenge.
They have tutorials from basic to advanced that may look overwhelming at first but you quickly get the hang of it and it produces an incredible time-lapse.
LRTimelapse | Tutorials
Here’s another great tutorial from the Time Lapse Network – Basic Workflow for time lapse processing with LRTimelapse
USING IMAGE& A VIDEO EDITOR:
There is a multitude of video editors that can be evaluated or used for free.
Many FREE versions are limited and may leave a watermark or give you a reduced resolution on your output video.
Panolapse is a good tool dedicated to Time-Lapse creation and can be used on both MAC and Windows.
Depending on what software you use, you may have to edit / batch-edit your base images and then assemble them at a rate of 30 images per second footage. Every software will do it differently and you can usually find a quick tutorial online and even HowTo videos on Youtube.
IN CAMERA TIME-LAPSE VIDEO:
This will be very proprietary to every individual device. Please note there’s a difference between the TIME-LAPSE and the HYPERLAPSE feature in cameras. We want to be using TIME-LAPSE. Every rule remains the same. You’ll have to be even more aware of your exposure as you will not be able to post-process the images to correct exposure mistakes or balance your light. You will however be able to do basic enhancements of the final video.
THE FINAL PRODUCT:
Your final time-lapse video should be between 10 to 15 seconds and really no more than 20 seconds as we need time to view them all. The final product at a minimum should be a video. You can however add a title, music, and even credits if need be. If you want to add music, make sure you understand the licensing for music and look for Creative Commons or Public Domain music. WIX Photography has a good article explaining the legal use of music in videos. 10 Best Sites to Find Free Music for Videos (wix.com)
Here’s an example of a finished product with title and music…
DEFINING YOUR CHALLENGE:
- CREATE A TIME-LAPSE VIDEO BETWEEN 10 to 15 SECONDS
- APPLY THE BEST EXPOSURE & INTERVALS FOR YOUR TIME-LAPSE
One of the best resources for time-lapse photography is the TIME LAPSE NETWORK. Highly encourage you to visit the site and at a minimum go through the basic tutorial under the LEARN TAB – Time Lapse Network — Free Tutorials, Videos, forum and much more!
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES I PRODUCED
PRIOR TIME-LAPSE PHOTO CHALLENGES:
The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:
- Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
- Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr (or both). Tag the photo: #2021photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
- Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2021 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.