August 5, 2014

Here Are Some Essential Tips & Tricks You Should Know Before You Shoot a Time-Lapse

Time-lapse photography is definitely not as cut and dry as setting your camera on a tripod and pressing record. It takes careful planning, a few pieces of essential gear, and a little bit of expertise to create those beautifully cinematic shots. If you're interested in adding this technique to your repertoire, Spanish cinematographer and time-lapse pro Enrique Pacheco shares a bunch of invaluable tips and answers many central questions with you in this helpful Shutterstock video entitled Timelapse Wisdom.

Enrique is not only a time-lapse photographer, but also a highly sought-after DSLR workshop instructor and Shutterstock contributor. Check out this video to get better acquainted with this talented photographer, as well as with his work and what it's like being a jet-setting time-lapse photographer.

In the short video below, Enrique shares some great information on time-lapse photography, from the gear you'll need to the tricks you learn along the way that make your images look better. If you're at all interested in this technique you probably know that you'll need a few key pieces of gear, a couple of which you're likely to have in your bag already, like a camera and a tripod. However, you'll also need a remote intervalometer, which does pretty much what it sounds like it does -- meters intervals (of time), and a neutral density filter.

Keep in mind that capturing a quality time-lapse takes quite a bit of planning and patience. Knowing the position of the sun or moon during your shoot is a must, as well as doing your research on your location before you ever set your tripod down. Enrique explains that he studies every location thoroughly, and plans each shoot around sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset. He does this with an app called The Photographer's Ephemeris, which you can find in the App Store for $8.99 or Google Play for $4.99. (It's also available on your desktop.)

And at the end of the day, the most important thing is to remember the basic principles of photography -- create a beautiful composition that draws focus to your subject with quality light. Once you have that covered, you can start to have fun using all of the awesome gadgets that are out there for motion control, which could take your time-lapse videos to a whole new level.

Here's Enrique to give you a quick lesson on time-lapse photography.

Enrique has also shared 10 time-lapse tips on his website that dig deeper into the techniques he mentions in the video below, and it's an absolute must-read for those interested in getting into time-lapse photography. One bit of information from his post I found incredible useful was the idea of choosing the right "lapse" for the subject you're shooting. Subjects that move at different speeds require different intervals, and Enrique shares a few suggestions for objects commonly shot:

  • Clouds moving very slowly: interval of 10 seconds.
  • Clouds moving normally: interval of 5 seconds.
  • Clouds moving very fast: interval of 3 seconds.
  • People walking down the street: interval of 2 seconds.
  • Path of the sun on a clear day, interval of 30 seconds.
  • Night landscapes, stars, moon, etc.: interval of 20 to 30 seconds.

And finally, here are a couple of Enrique's time-lapse videos for good measure:

Are you a time-lapse photographer? What tips/tricks should beginners know before they press record?

Links:

Your Comment

22 Comments

That intro which he has where he is standing in the middle of the street while everybody else is moving around him is really cool. I assume he just stands very very still, then does selective colour to turn everybody else to B&W.

August 5, 2014 at 9:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The other way of doing it would be to chroma key himself onto the time-lapse of the street scene.

August 6, 2014 at 6:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Eric Stratten

Thanks, David,

That's exactly how we did it.

Enrique is good at standing still, it turns out.

August 6, 2014 at 10:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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At night I would recommend intervals more in the 3- to 7-second range, and not higher than that. Longer intervals like 20 or 30 seconds can cause stuttering images.

August 5, 2014 at 10:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

The Nikon D600, BMPCC and Sony A7 models all have "built-in" intervalometers, sort of. However, they turn the stills into a video file in camera so you don't have the same control as shooting separate raw photos. Still, it's a great way to get started and is a handy way to grab a time-lapse for an establishing shot or b-roll. Of course, the BMPCC can record the video as raw. (Here's one example I did: http://youtu.be/_XDYMo0IqWM) For the Sony cameras you need to buy the time-lapse app for $10. As mentioned (I think) in the video, an ND filter is pretty essential.

August 5, 2014 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

Cool. Thanks for sharing that.

August 6, 2014 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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grantly0711

The Sony app has been updated and now lets you save separate raw stills.

August 7, 2014 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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thecouchguy

The Nikon D600 actually has two timelapse modes. "Timelapse", which takes photos and renders them into a 1080p video automatically, and an intervalometer mode, which works the same, only it saves the images as either NEF or Jpeg files. You can still get RAW frames with the D600 if you want them.

August 23, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Magic Lantern firmware for Canon DSLR cameras offer an in camera intervalometer feature too.

May 11, 2015 at 1:14PM, Edited May 11, 1:14PM

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avatar
Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
626

Fot those interested in shooting time-lapse with a photo camera there is an excellent and detailled ebook. It helped me a lot: http://lrtimelapse.com/shop/ebook/

August 6, 2014 at 1:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Photographer and a wonderful human being grandest

August 6, 2014 at 2:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adnan

Thank you!

May 11, 2015 at 6:36PM

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Pacheco
Cinematographer
161

LRTimelapse software is... how you say?...the bomb! :) Interacts with your images and Lightroom. You process some key exposures in LR and LRT will smoothly interpolate those keyframe settings and apply them to the intermediate exposures. Great when the light is changing during capture.

August 6, 2014 at 2:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jon

I used a T3i with Magic Lantern's intervalometer on a recent project. That software saved me a bit of money from not having to buy the Canon intervalometer, and worked great for most of the shots I needed. I did notice though, that, if I set the initial delay (the time between me locking in the settings and the camera taking its first picture) to be longer than 20 seconds or so, the camera simply wouldn't take pictures. Has anyone else had this problem?

August 6, 2014 at 7:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr Blah

Some from the GPS units act like your personal assistant
that includes a translator and Bluetooth capabilities yet others have MP3 player features.
For more information with this garmin navigation unit, visit this great site:
For more info on other garmin navigation units, visit this site:.

do not get worried too much about these long numbers, you can find some easy paths
to extract the 'position' of GPS tracking devices which we'll come on.
The civilian GPS system wasn't always mainly because it is today and the US military is still keeping the most accurate Global
Positioning Systems available classified for national security.
Garmin gps etrex 20 The layout of the building was
regarding the same before the 1990s then a layout of buildings did
start to change with the invention of GPS
(Global positioning system).

August 9, 2014 at 2:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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is there a way to edit or color correct large number of raw files together in a batch?

August 9, 2014 at 1:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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saurabh ranjan

Adobe Camera Raw, which is part of Photoshop, does this. Select all your photos and choose to "open with" Photoshop. The software will open the series of images, edit one, then "select all" and click on "synchronize".

August 10, 2014 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

I should have mentioned that you can do it in Lightroom too.

August 10, 2014 at 3:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

May 11, 2015 at 6:39PM

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Pacheco
Cinematographer
161

Great info.
I like his approach. To think like you're taking a still.
I get so lost in all the equipment and worry to much about the technical side of things.
Keeping it simple is often the hardest thing to do.
Thanks

August 15, 2014 at 4:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard Hamwi

You got it!

May 11, 2015 at 6:39PM

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Pacheco
Cinematographer
161

Great to see a Rokinon cine lens on that a7s. I went the same route and it is sharp a hell, while not breaking the bank!

May 11, 2015 at 1:16PM, Edited May 11, 1:16PM

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Thanks for sharing my work guys.
Cheers.

May 11, 2015 at 6:39PM

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Reply
avatar
Pacheco
Cinematographer
161