Time Lapse Photography Tutorial

I recently had seen some really great examples of time lapse photography so I decided it was time for me to try.  I am going to be shooting this incredible view of the Best Minneapolis Skyline at Night yet in time lapse so I have to perfect my skill before I attempt it. To do time lapse photography there are a couple of things you will need.

Time Lapse Photography Setup

First you will need a camera. Most people choose to use a DSLR for this but I’ve seen many videos use a GoPro camera also so there are some alternatives in this area.  Go ahead and experiment that is half the fun of photography.

St Paul Skyline at Night Time Lapse Photography Tutorial

St Paul Skyline Used for Time Lapse Photography

Next, you will need a great way to stabilize your camera. Whether that’s an expensive, heavy, stable tripod or some other method that you come up with on your own, that’s fine but it needs to be completely stable.  You want no movement at all unless you are purposely panning or something like that but that is a more advanced topic. Finally you’ll need some way to trigger your camera in a very consistent manner meaning in a fixed time interval. Believe it or not some cameras have this functionality built right into it. Other people have built homemade devices to do this functionality. I found a very cheap alternatives to do this. In my case I bought the $16 newer remote camera trigger. This simple little device allows you to program into it your number of shots yard interval of shots and all that great stuff it was really easy to do. Neewer Digital Timer Remote for Time Lapse Photography Tutorial

Neewer Digital Timer Remote for Time Lapse Photography Tutorial

Shooting Time Lapse Photography

Generally when you shoot time lapse photography you will be shooting in manual mode on your camera. I have heard of some people shooting an aperture priority I have not tried that method yet so I can not report on it. I will be trying aperture priority in the near future and I will report back on my results. The reason why you will be shooting in manual mode is you actually have to make adjustments to the camera throughout the intervals of shooting because the light will be changing throughout your time of shooting.  Clouds will be moving in or out, sun will be rising or setting etc.   So you will want to be adjusting for these changes to get the best results.

Camera Firing Frequency

Now we have to determine how frequently we’re going to be shooting the camera. In my example here, I shot it every 5 seconds, I have seen other videos that were shooting every 3 seconds. In some ways this is personal taste so play around with it but this range seems to have pretty good results.

Number of images needed

Another thing to consider is how many images are you going to need to make your movie? In general a normal movie has 24 frames per second so that the movie is not flickering or flashing to the person watching it. So then if you have an idea of how long you want your movie to be you just have to multiply that out. In my example here I was looking for about a two minute movie so. 24 frames / sec x 60 sec / min x 2 min = 2880 images wow OK that’s a start.  This gives us one part of our equation. So if I need 2880 images and I am shooting 1 image every 5 seconds 2880 * 5 sec / image * 1 min / 60 sec * 1 hr / 60 min Yikes, I have to be shooting for 4 hours.  Well for this particular evening, that was not going to be happening. Being I know I’m not going to be doing that, I will have to play with the math a little bit. In this case I had about 2 hours so I shot about 1100 images. Then all I did is I sped up the playback time a little bit so I would have less than 24 frames a second, probably 16 to 20 or something like that.

Processing your images for Time Lapse Photography

For absolute best results it would be best to shoot this all in camera raw so that after you are all done shooting you could perform some post-processing in Adobe Lightroom. You could adjust the color the contrast etc and all that for each image or at least for a range of images.

Making your Time Lapse Photography Movie

After you are satisfied with the actual images, then you’ve come to the time where you are ready to actually start creating your video. There are many video tools out there if you’re an Apple user you’ll be in Imovie or something like that. If you’re a Windows user you have access to Windows Movie Maker and many other tools. I happen to be a Windows person so this was made in Movie Maker. I simply imported the images, selected the aspect ratio so that it would not crop of my images too much. I then selected my playback speed to get a balance between the length of the movie and the amount of flicker or the smoothness of the play back. I simply adjusted it a few times to get the result that I was satisfied with.  Feel free to play around.

Adding Music to Your Time Lapse Photography Movie

Now that you have an appropriate length of movie you can actually select some music to put with it.  Any movie is so much better with some music. Did you know YouTube or Google now has a huge collection of music that is free to use for your movies. Just go here and take a look.  https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary

There is one minor caveat if you use that music they will be able to play commercials on top of your movie when you upload it to YouTube. In my case I can deal with that.

Adding Captions

If you want add some captions and credits to your movie and you’re all done. Uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo so that you can show your creation to ask and your friends. Here are my results:   I hope you found this little tutorial helpful. I want to see the movies you create after you read this so send me the links to your great movies. Please feel free to share this with your friends. Until next time, have fun and keep shooting!

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
moran.wayne@gmail.com