6 Timelapse Photography Tips [You May Not Have Considered]

6 Timelapse Photography Tips [You May Not Have Considered]

A Guest Post by Clayton McLaughlin

timelapse.jpgThere are a lot of tutorials out there that introduce the practice of shooting timelapses with a variety of different cameras. All of which can help you get started. But as with any situation, I’ve found there are a few things that have helped me along the way that I never read in a tutorial online.

1. Use velcro to secure the wireless trigger

Using a remote trigger does two things that are important to timelapse photography. First the intervalometer built into a lot of triggers does the tiring work of taking photos at a regular interval. Second, it allows you to be hands free from the camera, reducing the dreaded camera shake. But if you just wrap the trigger around the tripod, or even just drop it once it’s plugged in, a stiff breeze will blow that wire around and shake the camera. Defeats the purpose of using the trigger and the tripod.

My solution. I put a piece of velcro on my tripod leg and the corresponding piece on the back of the remote trigger. The wire stays wrapped up in a twisty-tie to avoid long cords dangling in the wind or just asking to get snagged on my sleeve.

2. Bring a notebook

Or use your phone to take notes. Having something to take notes will allow you to write down camera settings for immediate use (switching from AP to Manual mode to grab settings via in-camera light meter) and for future use (reference for settings to avoid star trails for instance). Personally I use Evernote on my phone amp; sync the app across all my computers. This provides an (almost) always available database of information that I can utilize. Think of it as a photography diary. Every time I shoot I try to create a new note about something I learned. When I get in a rut, I just look back at my notes. This is a habit I picked up from playing golf and it’s worked very well for my photography.

3. Download Google maps to your phone

This tip will likely not apply to everyone in every situation, but I’m giving it nonetheless. If you plan on hiking to a spot, or you’re just heading to am unfamiliar area, download that region to your phone via Google Maps. Then if you lose service you don’t need to depend on the network to provide the map. GPS always works so you can find your way still. Here’s a quick YouTube tutorial: Google Maps Offline

4. Bring a Small Red LED flashlight

This is a night time tip. It’s obviously hard to see in the dark, and the little light that you do get from your camera will go away once you start taking the pictures. If you’re shooting the stars, then this little tool will be especially handy because astrophotography is generally at it’s finest when there is the least amount of light pollution. The red color is better on your eyes in darkness and it isn’t as noticeable to the camera sensor.

5. Entertainment

Unless you’re a professional that shoots 9 cameras at once, you will likely setup the timelapse and then have to wait… a long time. So be prepared to keep yourself entertained. For me this includes my iPod and a phone with full battery to play games, write blogs, check sports scores, etc. If you’re into crossword puzzles, bring several. Timelapse photography is a waiting game.

6. Keep everything warm during cold weather shoots

This includes you and your gear. Put on enough layers to make you sweat when inside. Then put on one more before leaving the house. You won’t be moving around much so put on enough to keep you warm as you sit still for hours. I would recommend buying hunting gloves that let you pull the fingers back so you can easily changes settings, etc.

As for your gear, buy the hand warmers that are available in every retail store and gas station in the country. Place all of your extra batteries in a pocket with this warmers. I gene

Further Reading:

An Introduction to Time Lapse Photography

How to Make a Time Lapse Video With Your DSLR

7 Tips for Shooting Better Timelapse

Interview with Ross Ching – Time Lapse Photographer

Clayton McLauglin is a Chicago based ‘digital junkie’, photographer, videographer and storyteller. See more of his work at his blog, on Flicker and Follow Clayton on Twitter at @augiecrazy8.

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Some Older Comments

  • roberto May 14, 2013 04:45 pm

    I would also add a solid umbruella. A sudden storm can make the sequence unique... and you (and your camera) very wet!

  • Neil March 19, 2012 01:08 am

    this was my first attempt with time lapse , any pointers?


    Thank You

  • Paul February 15, 2012 07:38 am

    There are also some very good smart phone apps that help fix your GPS position and allow you to attach a note.

  • bigdave February 10, 2012 03:35 pm

    Sorry; I meant Richard, not Keith.

  • bigdave February 10, 2012 03:34 pm

    Keith - the very FIRST point says "use velcro to use the WIRELESS trigger!"

  • Pete Wendt February 10, 2012 09:10 am

    I camouflage my equipment and usually set up about three units in various locations.
    it keeps me busy and my only problem is remembering where they are!

  • Basil Spencer-Hicken February 10, 2012 07:50 am

    I recently did a timelapse sequence in the harbour of a flooding of the dry dock in order to re-float a ship after it's refit. I was busy for four hours in the sun and took 860 photographs in the following sequence:
    1) lot of quick activity - removal of scaffolding: 16-20 second interval between shots
    2) lot of slow activity - the actual flooding to 2.5 hours - 35-40 second interval between shots
    3) very fast activity - the opening of the gate and towing the ship out - 3 second interval between shots

    Approximately 3 hours of shooting condensed into 1 minute 28 seconds. You can see the sequence here:

    This was my first real attempt at timelapse and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it!

  • Jimmy February 10, 2012 05:20 am

    Richard, you need to look at the BIG picture! "1. Use velcro to secure the wireless trigger"

  • Al February 9, 2012 01:58 pm

    Good tips here.
    I was a noob when I did my star trails time-lapse last summer. I walked up to the camera every couple minutes to press the shutter. Still the result wasn't bad;

  • jim February 9, 2012 07:44 am

    Does this article cut off at the end?

    Also with the handwarmers. Take a rubber band and a hand warmer and attach the hand warmer to your lens via the rubber band to prevent condensation.

  • Richard February 8, 2012 03:43 am

    Keith, I don't see a reference to a "wireless trigger" anywhere. A remote trigger doesn't have to be wireless.... just sayin'.

  • Fuzzypiggy February 8, 2012 12:48 am

    Point 1, very advanced remote triggers can be bought from Amazon and eBay, very cheaply. I got one with dozens of functions ( even has a backlit LCD! ) that only cost me £25 (GBP) whereas the proper Canon one for my 5D would have set me back about £200 (GBP)!

    Point 3, get a copy of The Photographer's Ephemeris. You can get it for iPhone and Android.

    It's absolute superb with so much information about sun up/down times, moon up/down times and loads of other useful outdoor info. All backed up by Google Maps. I have used it for over a year now and I never go anywhere without it.

    Desktop version is free, so you can use it on a laptop for free for example. The buy the phone version if you want a more mobile version of it.

  • Learn Photography Tricks February 7, 2012 11:33 pm

    Another great tips by DPS! I didn't know that we are able to download Google Maps into our phone!

  • keith February 7, 2012 10:35 pm

    Tip #1, a wireless trigger shouldn't have a wire to swing around and mess up the shot. Just sayin'.

  • Sreenivasa Sudheendra February 7, 2012 02:17 pm

    nice post..
    sunset http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudheendra_s_p/6704979093/in/photostream

  • raghavendra February 7, 2012 01:53 pm

    In photography field we need to travel places, Google maps is indeed a good option.
    why does the article is suddenly ended,
    it did not complete at all


  • Sam Cox February 7, 2012 11:33 am

    Did the article get truncated in editing? It seems to end abruptly.

  • Scottc February 7, 2012 10:07 am

    I agree on the Coffee as well as the Photographers Ephemaris!

    Also a handy hint to keep the batteries in your pocket with the hand warmers.

    I've frozen myself several times for an early morning photo in Winter, I know it was below 20 for this one.


  • MikeC366 February 7, 2012 07:38 am

    Hi Darren, good article. Only you forgot the flask of coffee, or whatever their tipple may be.

    Another thing I always take with me is The Photographers Ephemeris. It is on my phone, and my PC at home. It's based on the Google Maps API, and gives all the sun and mood angles and times, graphically overlaid on a map. It's great, and no I'm not being paid by them I just think it's really useful. I can wander round in my spare time and scout locations for sunrise.

    Anyway, just my two penny worth.
    I love my alone time in the early morning in the landscape. Here is one I took early yesterday, just as the sun was coming up: http://wp.me/p268wp-7G

    Thanks for the great site.