Time-Lapse Photography

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All credits to smartphones, time-lapse photography is one of the most practiced niches these days. Besides professionals, people frequently post their time-lapse shots on social media.

If you also find this genre of photography fascinating and looking for guidance to shoot perfect timelapse, this mini-guide is for you!

What is Time-lapse photography?

It is a photography technique that captures the movement for a long time. When all the captured shots are played in sequential order rapidly, one can observe all the motion processes in one go.

Time-lapse gives the artistic illusion of high-speed movement, but in reality, it is a compilation of shots of the same frame taken at consistent intervals over a while.

Anything can be a fun subject to shoot using time-lapse. Still, classically the topics are skyscapes, landscapes, celestial movements, plants/flowers/fruits lifecycles, evolution, street photography where people are moving.

Types of Time-Lapse Photography:

The technique of time-lapse has been in use for decades. In the beginning, it was merely used to add special effects in footage for television. As time passed and digital cameras and smartphones became common among the masses, this genre of photography expanded a lot. Roughly there are 8-10 major types of time-lapse photography.

Skyscapes

Skyscapes are one reason people popularise it, especially hobbyists, and honestly, skyscapes are just beautiful!

Skyscapes also have two types:

First, Astroscapes in which the sky is shot at night to shoot stars and other celestial objects in the movement. Popular astroscapes are shooting the milky way, moon, northern lights, et cetera.

The second is daylight skyscapes, mainly to show moving clouds and sky transitioning colors.

Take a look here – Video by Pixabay from Pexels

Cityscapes

These timelapse are shot in urban settings, i.e., the transition of the frame from daylight to artificial night lights as the sun goes down and it gets dark in the city.

Elevated spots work the best for cityscape time-lapse photography.

Landscapes

These are used to shoot the wonders of nature.

Getting perfect landscapes involves thorough planning and the active involvement of the photographer. Shooting a single video can require multiple sessions as one can’t control nature. Photographers also might have to hike or plan a trip to find their perfect shooting spot.

Holy grail timelapse

These timelapse are shot during the sunset or sunlight. With changing sunlight, the camera’s exposure settings are also changed. Usually, only people good at using manual settings of camera can explore this time-lapse

Aerial Hyperlapse

These timelapse are shot using drones or from a helicopter or plane. Series of still images are shot aerially at various intervals and played back at a cinematic frame rate.

Transition timelapse

These are shot to show the growth, decay, or simply the change. These can be plant lapse showing a seed turning into a grown plant, day to night or night to day transition, fruit ripening/decay, change of form, etc.

Have a look here – Video by Pixabay from Pexels

Equipment for Time-lapse Photography:

Shooting with Smartphone

Smartphone time-lapse cannot meet the quality of digital camera time-lapse, but they have an edge in equipment.

The only gear you need is a tripod/monopod. Time-lapse involves shooting the same frame over and over continuously after intervals. That isn’t easy without a tripod.

Shooting with Digital Camera:

Camera

Any camera can do the job. Nowadays, even low-end and cheap cameras have built-in modes for time-lapse.

If you are into some specific sub-niche, which camera can work the best for you can vary. For dimly-lit situations such as shooting Astro time-lapse, cameras with higher ISO settings work the best. For landscapes, full frame or wide-angle cameras do the best job.

If you want professional-level results or invest in a dedicated camera for timelapse, invest in a mirrorless camera.

Tripod

Either shooting with a smartphone or a DSLR, using a tripod is a must. The camera needs to be perfectly still in this niche and that too for quite a while, and that isn’t easy when the camera is held in hands.

Besides time-lapse photography, investment in a good tripod always pays off. It plays a massive role in getting sharp footage.

Intervalometers

This gadget allows photographers to pre-determine how many photos the camera will take and at what time interval. Using this, one does not have to click the shutter after every interval.

Storage cards

Time-lapse shots require a lot more space than regular footage. A memory card can get full even with a single image. At least 2-3 spare memory cards are essential when you are exploring this niche.

ND Light filters

Time-lapse photography involves shooting at longer shutter speeds. ND Light filters come in handy when shooting on such settings.

Lenses

Using a camera lens is entirely optional and depends upon the time-lapse you are shooting. Commonly used lenses for this type of photography are prime, zooms, wide, or telephoto.

Tips for Time-lapse Photography:

Shoot manual

Most smartphone cameras have time-lapse as the default option now, so this tip is really for DSLR users.

If you can handle it, always go for manual shooting. Manual gives you more hold on the final look of the footage. In auto-mode, the camera itself corrects exposure and other settings.

Two images of the same frame, taken just seconds apart, can appear contrasting. Consistency cannot be achieved with this, which is the core of time-lapse photography.

Focus on “focus”

If all the settings are perfect in your frame, but the subject is slightly out of focus, it will ruin your time-lapse. This footage genre requires a reasonable amount of time and effort, so be careful about the focus.

Using manual focus is the only answer to this potential problem. Also, utilize the Live View option. Do not start shooting unless you find the subject perfectly focused.

Aspect Ratio

Always shoot time-lapse videos at 16:9. Composing these videos at still ratios, you will chop off the top and bottom of the footage.

Exposure of the image

No matter what type of genre you are practicing, exposure makes or breaks the image. When shooting time-lapse, always check exposure beforehand. Take test shots and adjust exposure on your desired settings, or you might be shooting over/underexposed images without even realizing it.

Right time interval

Time-lapse intervals are the number of frames per second (FPS) in your time-lapse video.

If there is faster movement in the scene, intervals should be short, i.e., 1-3 seconds. Slower movements should be captured at larger intervals, i.e., up to 30 seconds. The longer the interval, the more accurate time is compressed into a shorter clip. The scenes will appear to move faster in the final time-lapse video.

Never shoot fast subjects at large time intervals. Doing so, objects will start appearing missing in the final footage.

Conclusion

Everyone loves the technique of time-lapse photography. It gives life to the still moments. It allows you to know those stories right in front of us, but we never realize their existence.

Either you are already a talented creator of time-lapse footage or a beginner curious to explore this fascinating niche, we hope this article was helpful for you.

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