Photography Tutorials

How to Do Time Lapse Photography


The amazing world of time lapse photography.

Time lapse photography is very simply a series of images taken of the same scene over time and then combined and speeded up into a video sequence effectively speeding up time.  The images are taken a few seconds apart so because time passes between each frame it gives the interesting animated feel that does not exist when simply speeding up standard video.

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Time lapse photography is generally used in video work but can also be an extremely effective tool for photographers to add interest to their portfolio and grab the attention of viewers. Especially on services made for short videos like Instagram and Facebook. Video can make many photographers feel very uncomfortable. However they are well placed to produce great time lapse photography because they are created using a normal camera and requires photography skills such as capturing proper exposure and a great composition.

The only gear you will need is a camera and somewhere stable to mount your it.  A wall or the floor will work but a tripod is ideal. You will also need an intervalometer. Some cameras have this built in and others you will need a separate device. These are extremely cheap to buy online. The intervalometer simply fires the camera over and over again at a set interval.

To shoot time lapse photography you need to be in manual mode so the exposure remains constant throughout the final time lapse video. You will get better shots if you go somewhere interesting that includes a lot of movement. Cities work well with people and vehicles moving around for example.

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To shoot your time lapse movie you must be in manual mode. Capturing consistent exposure on each image is vital to making your time lapse look realistic and authentic. Go somewhere interesting that includes some movement. Places like cities work well with lots of traffic and people moving around. Next you need to come up with a great shot bearing in mind you are creating a video. You therefore are composing a 16x9 aspect ratio image as opposed to the usual 3x2. You can use the cameras video mode to give you a better idea of the crop that happens at 16x9.

When setting your interval, five seconds between shots works well. If things are moving faster in your scene try something quicker like 3 seconds. We are creating a video file so you need to think about your video frame rate. I shoot most of my videos at 25 frames per second so when the camera has fired 25 images that will create 1 second of footage. My time lapses in this video are about 8 seconds long so included about 200 images.

The video shows how to put your time lapse video together in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop so go ahead and give it a try for yourself. Get a FREE trial of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom - Click here.

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