Time lapse photography reveals movement otherwise invisible to the naked eye. It condenses the natural progression of time in a truly unique way, and takes more than setting up your camera with a tripod and pressing record. Every time lapse story begins with a story. Our story: a look inside Red Truck Brewery. What better place to tell a story with time lapse than to capture Red Truck Brewery being built? Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years when setting up for a time lapse shoot.
PLAN YOUR SHOOT
Any successful filmmaking venture begins here. Research your location ahead of time so you know what you are walking into. Find photos ahead of time. Understand your location from every angle by considering environment and the light. Ask yourself how much time you will need to capture the full range of movement you are looking for in your story. For more on locations, you can also read the blog post we wrote on location scouting.
GATHER YOUR MATERIALS
- Your DSLR: We use a Canon 5D.
- A Steady Tripod: This may even mean bringing extra tools to help stabilize it. Pack a little extra weight to minimize vibrations and unnecessary movements in your shot.
- Memory Cards: Expect to take at least 300 photos. Take more in case you need them. Come prepared to shoot a lot of content and never put yourself in a situation where you can be found short.
- Power: Bring everything you’ve got. Consider the weather and how that will affect your battery life. You’re camera will be on for a long time. Come prepared.
- Filter: Consider your environment and your lighting and then pack the appropriate filter to match.
- Intervalometer: This will tell your camera when and how often to snap a photo. Most cameras don’t come with this. You’ll need one.
SET UP YOUR CAMERA
The manual setting is your best friend in time lapse. The shutter speed for time lapses varies depending on the movement in your shot. For example, a night time time lapse of the sky could be 25-30 seconds, whereas clouds in the daytime could be 4-6 seconds. Treat your composition as if it were a stand alone photograph. Anticipate the movement in your frame and try to pick a subject that changes at a consistent rate.
You’re ready to roll. There’s no better way to learn a new trick than to dive in and see what happens. Take extra footage so you have more than you need to work with. Bring a notebook or something to keep you busy while you monitor your shoot and keep a safe eye on your gear.