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Time-Lapse Photography

Steps for Beginners

By Ben Halberstam, CEO of Movo

Introduction to Time-Lapse Photography for Beginners

This guide offers a few tips and tricks for the various stages of time lapse photography, from planning the shoot to composition to gear and points in between.

Step 1: Time Lapse Photography Requires Planning and Preparation

Planning your time lapse shoot will only help you get better results. While it's not as exciting as creating the time lapse, planning is a critical part of your success. Planning your time lapse is more than just picking a pretty subject in a great location.

You need to consider your timing, in terms of the time of day and time of the year, as well as what's going on at that location. If you want to create a beautiful time lapse of clouds drifting over the peaks of the Tetons, early morning or late evening is an ideal time. What’s more, spring and fall when storms are more prevalent will make for a much more successful shoot than in the winter, when the peaks are often socked in by snow and low-hanging clouds.

Additionally, think about the kind of movement you might capture at your desired location. Will you focus on clouds traveling across the sky? A river or waterfall for some nice water motion effects? Waves on the beach? Cars passing by on a bridge?

Without some sort of motion in the shot, your time lapse isn't going to be very interesting. Planning your shoot for the right subject at the right time to help you maximize the movement for the greatest time lapse effect.

Quick Tip: During the planning phase, determine your route to get to the location, where to park, and if any fees or permits are required.

Step 2: The Right Time Lapse Gear Will Help You Create the Best Videos

The great thing about time lapses is that you can create an interesting video with virtually any kind of camera - even basic DSLRs with a kit lens will do. Many cameras even have a built-in time lapse function. However, stepping up your game in the gear department is highly recommended to create the most compelling videos.

A great investment for time lapse video is an intervalometer. An intervalometer allows you to enter criteria for how often, how long, and how many photos are taken, giving you the ability to get perfectly timed images. Many intervalometers offer features that are more advanced than built-in time lapse functions in cameras, like selecting the drive mode of the camera or setting up the camera for a long exposure.

One of the best products to boost the quality of your time lapse videos is a motorized slider system. With sliders you can add another element of movement to the shot and can use the slider to move the camera as it takes the individual photos in the time lapse sequence. This means you get to capture the movement of the subject while also capturing the movement created as the camera makes its way across the slider.

The MOVO Time Lapse Slider has built-in features, and includes a Bluetooth remote. The aluminum alloy construction makes it lightweight and durable, which is just what you want when it comes to photography gear!

Step 3: Pay Close Attention to Composition

You want a strong subject, foreground interest to draw viewers in, and elements of interest in the midground and background as well. You also need to consider the movement of the camera and how the scene will change over the course of the time lapse. In other words, consider what the scene looks like now as well as what it will look like when the last frame is captured.

Step 4: Take More Photos Than You Think You'll Need

To create a time lapse video that's about 25 seconds in length, you need to shoot roughly one photo every 12 seconds for a period of 30 minutes. To create a smooth time lapse, you need a ton of photos taken at the right interval.

While each subject and scene is different, typically, a good rule of thumb is that for a slow-moving subject you need one photo every 10 seconds. For fast-moving subjects, you might need a shot every three seconds or so. At the same time, time lapses of the night sky only require one shot every 20-30 seconds.

Naturally, the longer the period between each shot, the less smooth the time lapse will be, which means you need to err on the side of caution and shoot more photos than you think you'll need.

If you truly want to inspire people with the videos you create, you need to take the time to plan, get the right gear, mind the composition, and get tons of photos!

By on 2019-10-16

Neocamera Blog is a medium for expressing ideas related to digital cameras and photography. Read about digital cameras in the context of technology, media, art and the world. Latest posts links:

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