How to make a high quality TIME-LAPSE! / by Adam Karnacz

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.

Gear

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. 

Shooting

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.

Intervals

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.