10 Things not to do in a time-lapse
Panorama Photography Nature Photography People Photography
January 18, 2019

How do you actually show an entire event to your viewers in a short span of time? Realistically speaking, they will not be interested to see the video of the entire phenomenon. As a result, you will have to show the content in a much more interesting way. Presenting a time-lapse video is a solution. A time-lapse is nothing but showing a long event in a very short duration of time. This can be done to shoot everything ranging from sunsets to cooking recipes. Time-lapse videos have become quite common across various fields. However, it still manages to grab everyone's attention, when shot properly.

Let us take a look at a few things that we must avoid while shooting a time lapse…


Image courtesy: timelapsenetwork

  1. Shooting in jpeg: Shooting a time-lapse in jpegs is quite close to a crime! Since a time-lapse is shot over a considerable period of time, there may be lighting changes happening during the shoot. To fix these in post-processing, you need to capture all the data possible. Hence shooting in raw format is mandatory. When you are shooting for a few minutes under controlled lighting conditions, you may experiment with jpeg also.


  1. Not a very stable setup: The most important camera accessory required to shoot a time-lapse is a tripod and it has to be a very stable one at that. Ensure that the tripod you are carrying has a maximum capacity of twice the weight of your camera gear. Even that might not be good enough on a windy day. In such a case, use a sandbag and suspend it from the middle leg of your tripod to get more stability.


  1. Not getting the focusing right: It is always advisable to use manual focusing in time-lapse shoots. You don’t want the camera to continuously hunt for focus. If there is some change in the scene the focusing of the camera may get changed and then the camera will start hunting for focus again. This may result in undesirable objects getting into sharp focus. You will have to be spot on with your manual focusing. Get a couple of test shots to check whether the focusing has been set properly.


  1. Not using a shutter release cable: You may have arranged for a sturdy tripod and a stable set up. What is the use of that if you manually press the shutter button of your camera for every shot? This will lead to shakes especially if the shutter speed is slow. Use a shutter release cable or an intervalometer to get the best results. Some cameras do have a built-in intervalometer feature. Read the user manual of your camera to find out if your camera has this particular feature or not.


  1. Fidgeting with your camera mid-way: Since the time lapse shoot takes time, you will make sure that you stay away from your camera for the entire duration of the time. Fiddling with the camera during the shoot just to check the battery level of the histogram may lead to a change of position. This may lead to a complete failure of the time-lapse shoot. Keep your battery fully charged and get some test shots done so that you do not have to keep going back to your camera body.


  1. Not using slow shutter speeds: Now this is my personal preference. You may or may not agree with this one but I have a feeling that time-lapse videos look much more professional when the shots are taken with slow shutter speeds. For example, a sunset time lapse will look much more attractive with a set of 1-second long exposure shots than with several shots having much faster shutter speeds. With slow shutter speeds, you will actually be able to capture all the drama in the surroundings.


  1. Getting into the dilemma of manual or assisted mode: I personally prefer shooting time lapses in manual mode. However, if there are frequent changes in the lighting conditions, manual mode may not work since you cannot change the exposure settings every time. In such a case you can use any of the assisted modes. Choose the metering mode depending on what you are shooting. Go with evaluative metering for landscapes and spot metering for a subject in the clear spotlight.


  1. Not focusing on composition: We tend to have a feeling that time lapse will always look good because of the way they are shot. This is certainly not true. Time-lapse images require good compositions. Find the most interesting composition available to you at that point in time. Try to include some foreground in case you are shooting a landscape or a sunset. In case you are shooting a cooking time lapse, make sure you are including the smoke or even the hands of the cook. Such things tend to keep your audience connected.


  1. Overdoing time lapses: Once you get hooked to shooting time lapses, you will always feel the urge to shoot one. It is like an addiction and like most other addictions, needs self-control. Time-lapse shots look good when there is a lot of action happening in your frame. Don’t go for time-lapse shots if most of the objects are stationary. If there is no movement, there is no time lapse! It is that simple.


  1. Going overboard with processing: This is a very common scenario. We tend to go overboard with our processing especially in landscape shots. There is a feeling that it can be improved drastically, every single time. Keep the processing simple. A little tweaking of the highlights, shadows, contrast, and white balance and color vibrancies is enough to get the best out of your shots. There is no need to bring about stark changes to your images if you shoot them properly. Stay clear of major sharpness adjustments in processing as they tend to introduce grains.



Image courtesy: Pinterest

Time lapses look very attractive when shot properly. The next time you plan a time-lapse video, try to keep the above points in mind and you may end up shooting a cool time-lapse video. Get addicted to time lapses and keep all your viewers hooked!

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