Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lesson Learned: Time Lapse Part 2

Nikon D600, Nikkor 16-35 f/4 @ 2 sec intervals

While on my recent trip I had a tendency to shoot a little of everything. I would bracket some exposures for HDR, maybe do a panorama, even do a HDR panorama. I experimented with focus stacking, oh and long exposures. I got a pretty neat Hoya 9 stop ND filter. Oh and if the scene warranted those techniques, then why not a time lapse as well?

To be fair, I'm new to at least a couple of these techniques but I was excited to try them out. If you want to do it right, special thought probably needs to go to each of these. Time lapses are no different. Here's a list of things that I MUST remember for each time lapse, because a lapse in memory will kill the shot.
  1. Have plenty of memory on the card for the amount of photos your going to take. In many cases I take 300 photos which gives me 10 seconds of video at 30 fps
  2. Do the math. Calculate the time you'll need to be standing there. For example if you want 300 shots and plan to use a 2 second interval. 300 shots x 2 seconds = 600 seconds. 600 seconds / 60 seconds per minute = 10 minutes. This is especially important if your doing any type of long exposure. Say your doing night photography and you need 30 second exposures. Then you take 30 second exposure + 2 second intervals = 32 seconds. 300 shots x 32 seconds = 9600 seconds. 9600 seconds / 60 seconds per minute = 160 minutes. So in this case... bring a chair.
  3. Put the camera in manual focus mode. You can auto focus to make sure it's set properly, but then switch it to manual. The last thing you want is the camera to be trying to find focus between each shot. Slight variations in focus will cause a zooming effect. This effect will made the video choppy and hard to watch.
  4. Turn off VR, IS, VC, OS or whatever your lens manufacturer calls it. Just like the auto focus causing movement, so can the stabilization. So turn it off.
  5. Take several practice photos to make sure your settings are right. Look at the photo and histogram.
  6. Start the time lapse as a test to make sure everything is working properly. I had a situation where I set the camera to 300 images, only to realize it was counting down by 5. So it went 300, 295, 290, 285, etc. If I would have realized this sooner I could have saved some time and hassle.
I hope this blog post was helpful. Please contact me anytime with any questions. And when you create some beautiful time lapses videos, be sure to get a hold of me so I see your amazing work!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lesson Learned: Time Lapse Part 1

Time Lapses have become very popular over the last couple of years. Today there is easy to use software, built in time lapse or interval timers and plenty of online tutorials. All of this has made making time lapses more accessible to the hobby photographer. As soon as I realized this was something that I could do with my current equipment, I was ready to go.

Well almost, there was a bit of a learning curve and I had to do my research. I did some tests and some more research. This isn't a time lapse tutorial, I don't think I'm quite ready to be writing one of those yet. When I become more proficient, then maybe I will write one. In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of lessons I've learned along the way.
  1. Buy a battery grip or at least extra batteries. On my recent trip to Yosemite NP, I brought my brother's (Derek) D7000 camera as a second body. He had a battery grip and 2 batteries which, as it turns out, are the same batteries as my D600. The two extra batteries were very important.
  2. Buy an external intervalometer. My D600 has an interval timer built in but I found it to be unreliable. This issue is maybe a blog post of it's own, so I won't go into detail. But I found at times it wouldn't take the right amount of photos. For example, I set it to take 300 photos, but it counted down by 5. It went, 300, 295, 290, 285 etc.. On a couple of occasions it just stopped completely despite having plenty of battery and memory space. I've heard plenty of good things about the generic intervalometers and I'll probably go with the Satechi MTR-M. But I haven't tested it yet, so don't quote me on that.
  3. Buy extra memory cards. I had a 32g, two 16g and two 4g cards with me. I also had a 32g in my GoPro which I could pull if necessary. Derek's camera had another 16g card which I ended up using as well. This was a pretty short trip, so if I plan a longer trip next time, I will need more cards. I could have formatted, transferred to my Macbook and kept going, but I prefer not to format anything until I get home if I can help it. 32g & 64g SanDisk  are cheap next time I'll bring some extras. I found that on a 32g card I could get about 1000 photo's with my D600 in RAW mode. I tend to go for 300 image time lapses which gives me 10 seconds of video at 30fps. So you can see how just a few time lapses will fill a card.
I know this turned out to be a list of things to buy. But the good news is none of them are that expensive, especially compared to what we are used to when comes to photography gear. If you do decide to buy these products please purchase them through amazon via our links in the page or the search feature to the right. It help support Natural Vision Photography. Thanks!