Time-lapse photography tips
Undoubtedly you will have seen some stunning time-lapse videos of the Milky Way rising in the night sky or traffic rushing through a city scene? Maybe you have wondered how these videos were created?
In this short video and guide below you will learn how to get started with time-lapse photography.
Time-lapse is a series of 100s or even 1000s of still images replayed in sequence producing a time-compressed video. Your Canon camera is perfect for shooting time-lapse, read the tips below and before you know it you will be creating your own time-lapse masterpiece
- 1. The right equipment – two essential equipment items for shooting time-lapse are a sturdy tripod, to keep you camera in a fixed position, and an intervalometer, also called a timer remote control. This is a device that enables you to set shooting intervals and in the film we have used the TC-80N3 which fits N3 connectors- if you have an E3 type socket you will also need a N3 to E3 converter cable. Some of our latest cameras feature an in-built interval timer, including the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R which makes the process even easier
- 2. Decide on your subject – find a scene where there is movement; a landscape scene with clouds, busy roads or a flowing waterfall are great starting subjects for time-lapse photography
- 3. Switch the camera to Live View Mode to help you set up the shot as you want
- 4. Choose RAW or jpg – RAW gives you more scope to alter the images later, but jpg uses less disk space. You may want to shoot in medium or small format to fit more images on your card, although shooting at a lower resolution may affect the quality of the final video
- 5. Exposure settings – Switch shooting mode to Aperture Priority and choose a suitable ISO to deliver the shutter speed you want. This could be anything from 100 to 800 during the day, and as much as 10,000 at night. Depending on your scene you may want a slow shutter to add movement to your subject. In general set your shutter speed under 1/100s for a smoother time-lapse
- 6. Evaluative metering will instruct your camera to take in the full scene when deciding on exposure. Selecting full manual exposure control can also be useful for scenes where the light intensity is constant, but if the light changes significantly your video may suffer from a flickering effect
- 7. Switch off settings such as Highlight Tone Priority and Peripheral Illumination Correction that may produce variations between images. White balance and picture styles should be manually fixed, if you shoot RAW you can make adjustments later should you need to
- 8. Compose your scene - select the right lens, typically wide-angle works best, compose your shot, focus on the subject then switch your lens to manual focus, you don’t want your camera re-focussing each shot
- 9. Set your intervalometer – Choose how often your camera takes a shot based on your subject, for fast moving subjects take shots closer together, e.g. for clouds moving past on a windy day try a 2 second interval
- 10. Decide how long you want your time-lapse to run for – the longer you leave the camera shooting the longer your final time-lapse will be. Bear in mind that most videos play back at 24 frames a second, therefore for a 30 second time-lapse you will need 720 shots. If you set up the camera to shoot every 2 seconds then the camera will need to keep going for 24 minutes. At longer intervals you may need your camera to be left firing for several hours
Once you have your images back home you will need to prepare your final time-lapse. Any cropping, colour correction to the images should be applied equally to the entire set of images to maintain consistency across the time-lapse.
If you have shot in RAW you will most likely need to export to jpg, choose a suitable file size for the video you want to produce. There is a range of free video software to combine your images into your final piece from brands such as Apple or Microsoft, but on the video above Adobe Creative Cloud was used.