Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 9 Time Lapse Cont.

While still getting my head round the details of time lapse photography, Zig gave the class a very enlightening talk on the subject. He also went through the differences, as well as the pros & cons, of time lapse vs. video. Here is an appraise of the information he shared.

The main thing to consider is the image size. DSLRs shoot in a 2:3 ratio. Video shoots in 16:9 – 1920px x 1080px in HD (High Definition), which is the size of the majority of screens.

There is also the 4K option, which is twice the width & height of HD – 3840px x 2160px. this results in even higher image quality on playback.

So, if you were shooting using 6000px x 4000px (2:3), you need to crop the images to the 16:9 ratio & size the pixels accordingly. This aspect also has to be kept in mind when framing the sequence – you don’t want to have to cut out any essential movement of transformation you’ve spent ages capturing.

The next is the frame rate. As I’ve mentioned previously, the European PAL system has 25 shots per second. This means that for every second of time lapse footage, 25 images need to be taken.

With video, filming at this rate results in each exposure is 0.04 seconds. So, shooting video at this point seems a more tempting option. But this does have a major drawback. Lack of control over shutter speed. So, if you wanted to film in darker conditions, the ISO has to be whacked up or lights used, which would effect the overall results. By taking a longer exposure on each ‘frame’ there is more options for capturing natural light. This is why time lapse is used for beautiful natural phenomena such as stars & the Northern Lights.

Zig also brought up the subject of the intervals between shots. He recommended either two seconds or five seconds for landscapes. Also, I found these helpful suggestions from Enrique Pacheco:

“The interval between shots is what will determine the speed of our final video. The longer the interval, the quicker will be the movement of the elements of our shot, and vice versa. But we must adapt the interval to the real movement of our scenery.” (1)

Pacheco’s interval suggestions are:

  • Clouds moving very slowly – 10 seconds
  • Clouds moving normally – 5 seconds
  • Clouds moving very fast – 3 seconds
  • People walking down the street – 2 seconds
  • Path of the sun on a clear day – 30 seconds
  • Night landscapes (starts, moon, etc.) – 20 to 30 seconds

There is also the consideration of the quality of the capture. If you’re shooting time lapse in RAW, the image will give more range & flexibility with regards to manipulation. However, this will result in larger files, so storage capacity has to be much bigger. As Zig explained the time lapse professionals would have an external storage device plugged into the camera for instant transfer. They would have a plug in external battery for the camera, too.

Another is focusing. As Enrique Pacheco explained in his feature on shooting in time lapse, it’s best to use the manual setting. He explains that if you use any automatism, the camera will try to correct every change of light and the colour temperature. (2).

However, Zig gave a handy tip for those with dodgy eyesight (such as myself)! Utilise the automatic focus to find a focal point then switch to manual focus. Will keep that in mind for my next test session. Interestingly, I found it easier to use manual focus when videoing – maybe it was due to the larger screen. But certainly needs more practice.

Zig also went through the process of converting images captured & producing a time lapse piece, which is covered in the next post.

Going back to video, one thing I did notice with my Nikon D5500 is that it’s able to film at 50 frames per second. Interesting…

With my curiosity piqued & creative juices flowing, my task (set by Zig) for the coming week is to try three different things – filming at 50 frames per second, filming at 25 & using the Interval Timer Shooting to capture images for a time lapse sequence.

1 & 2:

Tasks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5


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