Photography Tutorials

How to make a high quality TIME-LAPSE!

We look at how to make the best quality 4k time lapses that can add a new dynamic and level of quality to your videos.

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Time lapse photography is a brilliant way to add to the story you are trying to tell. You can condense a long period into a small amount of time to transition and move your story along. Time Lapses are also brilliant if you only do photography because they can add some real interest and something a little different to your portfolio.

How to shoot a time-lapse

A time lapse can be made in a number of ways. You can simply speed up video, use a camera’s built in time lapse mode or combine a series of still images. Each has their benefits. I prefer the later because it gives you total control over the final image in post processing and they are much higher quality. The other two methods create a video file that has less room for adjustment.


So what camera gear do you need? 

Almost all cameras can make time lapses these days but if you want to combine still images then you need an intervalometer that fires the camera every few seconds. A lot of new cameras like my Canon 5D Mark IV have one built in, otherwise you need an external one that plugs into the camera. These can be bought very cheaply for each type of camera. 

A tripod is also a requirement to keep the camera steady so the final time-lapse will be smooth and free of judder. Any tripod will do but if you are shooting a time lapse in the wind it needs to be sturdy. 


When shooting still image time lapses I am always in manual mode. That is so the exposure does not change between each image. You want the scene to change not your exposure. One tip here, especially if you are shooting a sunset, is to bear in mind that the last image will be much darker than the first. If you over expose the first image slightly, the images in the middle of your time lapse will be perfectly exposed and the darker images will still contain detail. It is the opposite way round for a sunrise.


Next I think about the interval. I use the same recipe for all my time lapses but it depends what you want to shoot. I do mine with:

  • 3 second intervals
  • 10 minutes to shoot
  • 200 images
  • 8 seconds video
  • 25 fps

This creates nice smooth time lapses and whilst it is shooting, gives me chance to get the drone up. 

Post processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

In this time lapse photography tutorial we also go through how to post process your time lapse and create the final 4k video clip using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

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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