What is Time-Lapse Photography

Time-lapse photography

Time-lapse photography has many uses, including filming nature documentaries, creating beautiful time-lapse animations, documenting events such as solar eclipses, and capturing moments in history such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise and fall of the Empire State Building, or the birth of a child.

Time-lapse cameras capture a sequence of still images that can be viewed together as a movie. The time taken between each photo is usually quite short, and is controlled by a computerized timer. As the images are taken at regular intervals, there is no need to change film and develop the photos one by one. This makes time-lapse photography a much less laborious process than other types of photography.

The time-lapse technique has been around since the 1970s. In recent years, compact and powerful digital cameras with large sensors (the size of the photosensitive film) have enabled photographers to shoot time-lapse sequences with ease and quality, making time-lapse photography a popular hobby and a professional tool for visual journalists, filmmakers, and documentary producers.

Before you get started with your time-lapse project, here are a few things you should know.

1. What to Use

The most common time-lapse camera is the intervalometer. These cameras use the timer built into the camera body to control the shutter speed. An intervalometer is an electronic device that takes several shots over a set period of time and then automatically stops the action. Most cameras have built-in intervalometers that control both the shutter speed and the aperture. Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that allows light to enter the camera. The shutter speed determines the length of time the camera is open to allow light into the camera.

The duration of a time-lapse sequence varies, depending on what you are photographing, how much film you have, and what the weather is like. For example, if you are taking a time-lapse of the moon rising over the horizon, it will take longer than if you were shooting a time-lapse of the moon in a cloudless sky. If you are shooting a time-lapse of a sunrise, you may need to get up at a fairly early hour to ensure you get the sunrise in the shot.

2. The Equipment

In order to take a time-lapse, you will need a tripod, a camera, and a computer to store the images. In addition, you will need a timer and some accessories such as a remote trigger, a remote release, or a cable release.

A tripod can be bought from most camera stores. If you want to go for a higher-end camera, you will need a tripod that will fit your camera. Most tripods can hold a DSLR camera, although the heavier models will require a longer tripod.

A digital camera that can take time-lapse images can be found in almost any camera store. If you have experience with another type of camera, you can use it, but it is probably easier to start out with a new camera.

You can also make your own. If you have the right tools, it is relatively easy to build an inexpensive tripod.

If you are planning to photograph the night sky, it will be best to use a tripod with a wider base. You will also need a wide-angle lens (or two), to get the entire sky in the frame.

3. Where to Shoot

Shooting a time-lapse in a city or a busy area will be difficult. The faster the action, the more likely you will get a blurr or a “jello” effect. Try a rural area, or a park where the lighting will be more natural.

4. The Film

The best films are high-speed films, available in daylight and artificial light. High-speed films have an ISO of 1,000 or more, which means they can be exposed to a lot of light without problems. If you are using 35mm film, you will need to load a new roll every 30 seconds, or you will run out of film.

5. The Time

A good rule of thumb is to shoot one photo every second. This will give you about 30 photos per minute, which is enough for a time-lapse. If you need more, increase the number of photos taken per second to about 60 or 90.

To get the best results, you should not be moving the camera. Instead, you should sit, stand, or lie down while your camera takes the picture. This will ensure the best possible result.

6. Filming Tips

Once you are ready to start filming, turn off the power to your camera. If you have a power switch, make sure it is in the “off” position. Also make sure that your camera and tripod are firmly connected to the ground. If you are filming a time-lapse of a sunrise, you will need to get up at a fairly early hour to ensure you get the sun in the shot.

It is best to have a friend help you with the camera, because it can be difficult to concentrate and operate the camera when you are getting the perfect shot.

7. Shooting Tips

The ideal time to take a time-lapse photograph is at sunset. Sunsets are dramatic, and the light will illuminate objects to create a beautiful, moody scene. The longer you wait, the brighter the sun will be. If the sun is already bright, it will be difficult to capture a good sunset.

Some people suggest starting the sequence before the sun has fully risen. But as soon as the sun is above the horizon, you will see shadows cast on your subject. This can be a great way of creating interesting patterns in the final image.