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Thread: Time-Lapse photography

  1. #1
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Time-Lapse photography

    Hi all,
    A friend of mine has won a large contract to supply and install solar panels at a local vineyard and asked me if I could do a time-lapse video of the process from start to finish.
    Never tried time-lapse before so I was wondering if any one here has any experience.
    I did find this site which has some good info http://www.lightstalking.com/timelapse.
    I spoke to my local camera store today regarding some items I thought I might need to have to do this successfully like ac power, interval meter, maybe nd filter and for under $500.00 I should have all I need.
    This is a "I might do it mate" sort of project depending on how involved it gets. I will be getting paid for it so anything I have to buy will be covered in my price.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Cheers, Greg

  2. #2
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    This could become more complex than you dared imagine!

    I'd get practicing now

    Your time lapse will be throughout a single day, or overnight, or over several days? Varying light? How long do you want your finished time lapse to last? How big is your SD/CF card capacity? What resolution are you wanting your time lapse shown in? Which software are you going to use? Anti flickering software? Intervalometer frame limit? Got Lightroom (in which case you can get by)? If it's in bright daylight, what shutter speed are you going to want to get a smooth video (this depends on frame rate, subject motion etc and will effect your ND filter purchase)

    The list goes on.

    Lightroom for synching your adjustments is a great plus. There's plenty of advice on youtube and lots of opportunity for research. It's something I want to get into (with a old camera body which I'm not afraid of putting loads of clicks onto) but I don't have the time these days.

  3. #3
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Thanks for replying Phil.
    I had a feeling this could get a bit complicated so I reckon I might back off from the offer.
    It's an aspect of photography that does interest me though so I will have a play with it in a no pressure situation.
    Cheers, Greg

  4. #4
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    I did a few once just to see if I could. I can't remember where I read the advice, but starting with a smaller scope for learning is good. Don't try and do all-night or all-day timelapses off the bat. Think of a subject that you can timelapse shoot in less than an hour to start (say, a melting ice cube or clock hands). The first thing you have to get a feel for is the timing--how fast the motion runs at, say, a frame per 5s vs. a frame per minute. Doing small short projects gives you more opportunity to adjust.

    I have a Panasonic DMC-G3 and a Canon 50D, and I approached adding an intervalometer two different ways. With the Canon, I simply used the free Magic Lantern firmware addon, which added a software intervalometer to the camera. Obviously, this won't work for you if you don't have one of the Canon bodies on the ML supported list. With the Panasonic DMC-G3, I used my iPodTouch, the free TriggerTrap Mobile app, and the TT dongle & cable for my camera. Both methods worked quite well for the few timelapses I did (ranging from 30 min to 3 hrs).

    For a longer timelapse, though, you're going to have to worry about power consumption. And if you use the TT stuff, not just for the camera, but also for the Android/iOS device that's serving as intervalometer.

    I combined frames using an open source CGI animation tool, Blender, but there are tons of ways to do this. I just happened to already have Blender around. Software and workflow are definitely big factors, here.

  5. #5
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    I hope I'm not putting you off.

    But I'd like to be confident and have some experience first before going into this. When I started taking occasional paid assignments I practiced as much as possible beforehand to enable me to present myself as professionally as possible on site (even though it may be for a friend of a friend) and get as good results as possible at the time. Only when I was ready did I take the plunge (this was in the realm of 360 degree virtual tour panoramas, which is not as complex as time lapse in terms of post production, but still reasonably complex to get right in camera in order to create a seamless end result)

    But hey, I reviewed a D600 last year for a local magazine and the camera had an in camera timelapse option. Easy peasy but the end result was compromised by:

    a) my lack of experience on ideal shutter speed to get a really smooth end result (bright light + I used an ND, but not a strong enough ND)
    b) inability to correct images - oil spots (the curse of many a D600) were in the frame and as the camera wrote directly to a .mov file these were not repairable.

    Here's a link or two - notice the oil spot, top left. This is accentuated by using around f11-f16 and an ND filter to get a shutter speed of around 1/30th, which still wasn't slow enough to get smooth traffic flow in the end result.

    http://philpage.zenfolio.com/img/s4/...847680-200.mp4

    http://philpage.zenfolio.com/img/s1/...434590-200.mp4


    But if your client would be happy with similar results, your best bet could be to hire 2 x D600's, a couple of lenses, get them mounted from different viewpoints, shoot your in camera .mp4 files, and then cut between viewpoints (if possible - I haven't investigated this) to present a longer timelapse with different views and greater interest.

  6. #6
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Kathy and Phil, thanks so much for your really helpful and very informative replies and links.
    I don't know if either of you have ever watched Top Gear, but I keep thinking of Jeremy Clarksons famous quote on the programme "How hard can it be"
    and the answer to that is usually, VERY.
    So seeing that the company my friend works for is one of Australia's largest solar panel companies I think it prudent to pass this task on to someone with a bit more experience than me.

    Phil, both those time-lapse links are amazing. The first one is a bit like sitting in the front row of the cinema. I found myself rushing around the screen trying to take everything in. Great stuff, it shows the immense scale of the hustle and bustle of where you live. Launceston is a little slower than that. I believe we are getting traffic lights and sealed roads next year

    Kathy, Just checked out the TT site and it supports both my Sony camera's, so I think I will be spending a little of my hard earned $$$ to add to my camera toy collection

    Cheers, Greg

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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Actually time lapse is easy for terrestrial photography. You just need to set up your equipment, use a lens which will cover the action, connect to laptop ( I used EOSUtility ) or intervalometer and start shooting. Only thing you need to experiment first is how fast you want your framerates to be. In your case, I would assume 2 - 5 secs should be okay. However you need to have a sizeable SD card and power.

    I make time lapses whenever I go on vacation like the beach for instance. I do have couple of short clips but even at 1024 res, they are big files.

  8. #8
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    The first thing to remember is that time lapse = video, not still photography.

    I have played around with time lapse, but only with my video camera, and really over a fairly short (less than an hour) period. My camera (a Panasonic AF100) does have the intervelometer built in; not as flexible as an external unit, but certainly good enough for my purposes.

    A number of things to consider; what final playback frame rate are you looking at (usually 24 fps (movie standard), 25/30 fps (European / N American std) and 50 / 60 fps (again European vs North American standard rate). The 24 fps will give you the film-like view, while the higher frame rates have the video look. If you are shooting purely for the web, 15 fps is pretty standard.

    You also need to look at the final image size you will be shooting at; 720 x 1080 and 1920 x 1280 are the two most common HD video standards. Whatever you do, make sure you shoot in progressive, not interlaced mode.

    The second consideration is the interval you want to shoot at, and that will be determined by the final length of your edited video. Here your have to factor in the length of time you will be shooting and the length of the final produce to figure out the interval you will be shooting at; as an example, if you want a 30 second clip for a 24fps final output, you will need 30 * 24 = 720 frames. Lets assume a 8-hour shooting interval (480 minutes), 480/720 = .667 minute interval, or you will have to shoot a frame every 40 seconds. On my camera I can choose 1s, 15s, 30s, 60s and 120s intervals, so I would shoot this at 30s.

    Another concern is camera time-out; often do have a "feature" where they turn themselves off automatically after a set period, and often there is no override available; my Panny, for instance is quite good this way and I can do up to a 24hour shoot. DSLRs tend to be a lot less flexible. Power supply could also be an issue; something worth testing; the nice thing about the video camera is that I can run an external power supply that is plugged into the mains and never have to worry about a dead battery; not so for my DSLR.

    Lighting is going to be tricky; you are not shooting RAW here (I guess you could and then assemble in post), but most HD video is recorded in a compressed format using a group of frames (GoF) technology. These technologies tend to use a block constant size; so higher frame rates and larger formats are compressed more; these compression algorithms are very efficient; I can store around 6 hours of video on a single 64GB card. This is a consideration for time-lapse, because you will be somewhat limited in what you can do in post to correct exposure issues.

    Shooting should be done in manual; disconnect your autofocus and your autoexposure. If you don’t your final product will look terrible as there will be instances where your camera “seeks” the focus point or exposure level. Getting your focus right is critical; if you can use an external focus magnifier or plug your camera into a field monitor to focus through the HDMI port. The display on the back of your camera is next to useless by itself. You’ll want to choose a mid-range for exposure so that you can normalize in post.

    You should also consider renting a proper video tripod. I assume that you will be shooting on rough ground, so my preference here is using a mid-spreader and use the spikes on the legs. I find photo tripods to be pretty useless when shooting video.

    The last step is to get out there and test and hone your technique. You should consider changing your shooting position several times during the shoot. Nothing is more boring that a 5-minute video where the camera never moves. Short clips of a few seconds; probably never more than 10 or 12 seconds max, assembled together in post tend to be a lot more interesting to the viewer.

    The final consideration is PP; you will need a video editor to put things together. I’ve used Final Cut Pro 6 & 7 on a Mac and all versions of Adobe Premiere (Pro), from version 6 through the full set of CS and am now using CC (Mac and PC).

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    You may want to take a look at LRTimelapse.

  10. #10
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Thanks Kathy for the link, I will check it out.
    Haseeb, Thanks for your tips. I'm heading to our local camera store today to talk to them about prices on what I need. A intervalometer will be top of the list.
    Manfred, Thank you so much for your very informative reply. There is so much to learn with every aspect of photography. Glad I'm part of this wonderful forum, you guys are the best

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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Greg, I have just started on Time Lapse and have done a few simple videos. I have also surfed the Internet for good videos on the technique. There are excellent You Tube tutorials to get you started such as Adorama. A simple Time Lapse is not difficult but it is time consuming and uses battery power. You basic equipment is
    1. A dslr. You can't do Time Lapse on a compact camera
    2. A sturdy medium to heavy tripod that won't move in the wind.
    3. An Intervalometer. This enables you to set your camera to take shots at varying intervals. Your camera may have a built in one. I use an external Hahnel Giga Pro 11. There are other brands.
    4. Spare batteries and a fast high capacity card.
    5. Lightroom or another program to create your video
    Start in your own backyard with time lapses of the clouds moving across the sky. Camera on tripod, compose your picture. Set the timing to one frame every 6 seconds. Medium jpeg. Let it run for an hour. Don't touch the camera. You will take 600 shots. Import it into Lightroom and go to the Slide Show module. Export the video at 24 frames per second. That will give you 25 seconds of video. Save it in its own folder and voila! you have your first Time Lapse. Practice this technique in various situations. Like photographing moving people in a Mall or the street. Sunsets from an overbridge, car lights at dusk. Become familiar with the simple things before tackling more difficult things like the stars. Don't be put off by the guys who say you need heavy expensive gear - just admire their work and do your own your way with simple gear. All you need is a dslr camera, an intervalometer, a good tripod, spare batteries and a larger fast card. Oh, and plenty of time!
    Barry

    provided you start

  12. #12
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Quote Originally Posted by barrydoig View Post
    Greg, I have just started on Time Lapse and have done a few simple videos. I have also surfed the Internet for good videos on the technique. There are excellent You Tube tutorials to get you started such as Adorama. A simple Time Lapse is not difficult but it is time consuming and uses battery power. You basic equipment is
    1. A dslr. You can't do Time Lapse on a compact camera
    2. A sturdy medium to heavy tripod that won't move in the wind.
    3. An Intervalometer. This enables you to set your camera to take shots at varying intervals. Your camera may have a built in one. I use an external Hahnel Giga Pro 11. There are other brands.
    4. Spare batteries and a fast high capacity card.
    5. Lightroom or another program to create your video
    Start in your own backyard with time lapses of the clouds moving across the sky. Camera on tripod, compose your picture. Set the timing to one frame every 6 seconds. Medium jpeg. Let it run for an hour. Don't touch the camera. You will take 600 shots. Import it into Lightroom and go to the Slide Show module. Export the video at 24 frames per second. That will give you 25 seconds of video. Save it in its own folder and voila! you have your first Time Lapse. Practice this technique in various situations. Like photographing moving people in a Mall or the street. Sunsets from an overbridge, car lights at dusk. Become familiar with the simple things before tackling more difficult things like the stars. Don't be put off by the guys who say you need heavy expensive gear - just admire their work and do your own your way with simple gear. All you need is a dslr camera, an intervalometer, a good tripod, spare batteries and a larger fast card. Oh, and plenty of time!
    Barry

    provided you start
    Thanks Barry, lots of useful info there.
    I'm planning to have a try this weekend depending on how much work interferes with my social life and wether it stops raining or not
    Cheers, Greg

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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    If it helps, Startrails is a free programme with which I make time lapse. Works well enough.

  14. #14
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Quote Originally Posted by HaseebM View Post
    If it helps, Startrails is a free programme with which I make time lapse. Works well enough.
    Thanks Haseeb. I found the Startrails software site. I will download it tonight

  15. #15
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Note: Startrails is for pc only from what could see. However I found this for Mac.
    http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarS....html#download

  16. #16
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Just found a very short time-lapse clip I took of sunset over the western part of Etosha National Park in Namibia; from Dolomite Camp.

    http://youtu.be/Op2HTEwOAdU

  17. #17
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Ok, Here is my first effort with time-lapse

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregj1763/9529440798/

    As suggested by Kathy, I tried the melting ice and was pretty happy with the outcome.
    Here are the settings and gear I used.

    Sony A99 in manual mode, Trigger Trap software on my iPad connected via dongle and cable to camera. One shot every 6 sec
    1/25th sec shutter speed
    Tamron 90mm macro at f/2.8
    Jpeg small 4.6m
    custom white balance
    manual focus
    200 shots over 20 minutes
    Encoded using Time-Lapse Assembler at 30 fps

    Thanks everyone for your help and advice. If it ever stops bloody raining here I will get a bit more adventurous and try something outdoors.

    Cheers, Greg

  18. #18
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    You may want to take a look at LRTimelapse.
    Looks like I'm a little late to this thread but I've been using a free Lightroom preset and template that is super easy and works great for what I've been doing. The only downside is that it sounds like Lightroom 5 has changed something so that Time Lapse video presets don't work. I've been using Lightroom 4 with no problems though.

    http://lrbplugins.com/shop/presets/l...setstemplates/

  19. #19
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Would love to see some examples of your time-lapse Patrick.
    Cheers, Greg

  20. #20
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    Re: Time-Lapse photography

    Hi Greg, here's a couple short videos from the past few days. They are part of an ongoing project so I just uploaded now to flickr to share here.

    With the first video I used a 3 stop ND filter to blur motion a little and went with a 2 second interval. I prefer how the motion came out in comparison to the 2nd video in which I regretfully didn't use the ND filter and went with a 1 second interval. I had to cut out around 6 frames from the first video because a boat passed right in front of me (that's why it's a good idea to shoot extra frames just in case) and if you look close you'll see my camera moves a little during the video. This was due to me not using a tripod and using my lens cap to lift the angle of the camera, I knew I had a concrete ledge to work with before going but probably should have used something sturdier than my lens cap to prop the camera up.

    I'm still in the experimental stages but was delighted to find the Lightroom Presets which works well with my workflow, after my basic adjustments I literally make 2 clicks and out comes the video :-)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick...am/?likes_hd=1
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick...n/photostream/

    Here's a good tutorial with some useful charts (I especially like the interval recommendations)
    http://digital-photography-school.co...melapse-movies

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