Set is key:
Set up your camera on a tripod and frame the shot you would like, just as if you were setting up for a single photograph. Set the camera to Aperture Priority (A on a Nikon or Av on a Canon), this will mean the camera sets the shutter speed depending on the lighting conditions at the time, accounting for changes in light from cloud cover or other factors. Choose a point in the frame to focus on, focus the camera and turn any AutoFocus functions ‘Off’, last thing we want is images with a disparity of focuses. Finally ensure your camera is set to ‘Fine’ or ‘JPEG’, what! No RAW? That’s right, shoot JPEG. With the final result being 30fps, the edited video is going to show 30 images every second! The file sizes for processing RAW files, combined with their short screen time, means that shooting RAW is an unnecessary approach.
For my examples I took a photograph once every 10 seconds for an hour, this will give us a total of 360 images from one hour of shooting and will make a nice smooth 30fps edit at the end. For timing the intervals a lot of cameras come with an ‘Interval Shooting’ mode (most Nikons do), but if yours doesn’t have one it just means you will need to time and release the shutter every 10 seconds, laborious I know! An alternative could be to tether your camera to a laptop where many programmes such as Lightroom enable you to shoot at intervals, this does start to depend on other factors though, like needing a fully charged laptop or one that’s going to last a full hour!
Creating the Time-lapse
So what we have so far is a ton of image but no time-lapse, so let’s build! Different people have different approaches but this is how I do mine. First every image has to be sharpened and secondly every image needs to be cropped to a ratio of 16:9. 16:9 because that’s a widescreen ratio which is the standard screen ratio of the vast majority of TV’s, Monitors and Screens. Sharpening because we must always sharpen an image, but how do we do this to 360 images without wanting to pull our eyes out? Again this is how I do it, open the folder with our images in Adobe Bridge, select all of them, then access File > Open in Camera Raw.
Next we’re going to select all the images as in the second screenshot. From here, while all images are selected, anything and everything we do will be applied to all of the images. We also need to change our cropping ratio to 16:9 and apply the crop to an image. As we shot with a tripod, the parameters of every image are the same anyway so this will easily apply the crop to all 360 images. Now simply save out the images to a destination of your choosing, keep the file name the same just for ease. This may take some time depending on how fast your computer is.
Now it’s time to start building the actual time-lapse, a lot of what we’ve done until now has been essential ground work to help it succeed. To build my time-lapse I’m going to use GoPro Studio which is a free software available from the GoPro website and I find that it works very well. I’ve tried various softwares in the past, mostly video editing ones, and find them to just be too processor hungry and overly complicated for what we need.
First we’re going to import the images to our project, followed by selecting the imported set, then ‘add clip to conversion list’, then hit ‘Convert’. From here the software will convert all the images into a single video piece which operates at 29.97 Frames Per Second (fps). From here ‘Proceed to Step 2’.
When in the edit step we’re not going to make any changes or faffing, this is just if you’re using GoPro studio to apply filters or type or any other video editing tools. We’re simply going to drag our project on to the timeline and move on to Step 3.
Step 3 is simple, give your time-lapse a name and a saving destination and voila! You have your time-lapse video.
As I said before, this is my approach, you might have your own. Check out the video below, Happy shooting!
Eastney Harbour Mouth
I love a good filter, whether it’s doing something fancy like extending your exposure or serving a purpose like a UV filter to protect the front element of your lens. One of my particular favourite filters is a Circular Polar. They serve a whole range of purposes which include helping to remove a shine from a surface like a glass cabinet (below) or to help pull some definition out in your landscape photographs.
The particular example, below, is from a recent and ongoing project photographing clouds but that’s a whole other series of posts.
You can buy ‘Polarising’ filters which serve the purpose of a Circular Polar filter when fully applied however I feel that the Circular variety allow for a lot more flexibility. The image on the left of the above pair is an example of a Circular Polar filter being rotated to a position where it is not serving a purpose. The clouds are softened and the blue of the sky is dulled slightly.
The example on the right of the above pair shows the filter fully rotated in to position. The clouds are more defined and the blue is a lot richer. The image ‘pops’ a lot more. The principle of a polarising filter could be compared to wearing a pair of sunglasses. Next time you are outside on a sunny day, try taking your sunglasses off and on repeatedly while looking at some clouds. You’ll notice a very similar affect to what we are doing here, but why do it?
In the image below I used a Circular Polar filter to add loads more drama to the sky while shooting this wedding. The results are superb!
As with many filters, the type you buy is crucial! Although cheap filters can be desirable if you’re on a tight budget, you can never replicate the capabilities that can be obtained by a more expensive ‘branded’ filter. I use a combination of Hoya and Cokin filters. Hoya for ‘screw-in’ filters such as UVs or Circular Polars and then the Cokin square system for Neutral Density and a whole host of others to be covered in future posts!