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7 Tips for Shooting better Timelapse

A guest post by Neelima Vallangi from the Wandering Soul’s Wander Tales.

Timelapse photography is one of the very interesting ways to capture motion. The results are almost always stunning. Moving clouds, changing light and shadows, celestial motion, growing things, flowing water, buzzing city life make for great subjects among many.

Timelapse photography is essentially shooting images of a chosen subject continuously at a specified interval and then making a movie out of it. Let’s say it is progression of time in fast forward mode. Making a timelapse might look very complicated, but with few things in mind, you could create your own masterpiece.

Below you can see the timelapse video that I had shot during my recent visit to the Himalayan Desert Valley of Spiti, India. These are few tips that I learnt from my first attempt at Timelapse photography and the mistakes that I made.

  1. Get Rid of Auto – Everything in your camera has to remain constant as the subject changes. Set the camera to manual mode before you start shooting. This includes ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture and Whitebalance. If you have never shot in Manual mode, you could always take a shot in the aperture priority or shutter priority mode and then use the same settings in manual mode.
  2. Focus Manually – Auto Focus before you start shooting and then change the focus to Manual. Else before every shot, the camera will try to autofocus eating away precious battery time and also will cause glitches in the movie. (You can find signs of this in my video below.)
  3. Save up memory by shooting in low res – If you are going on a long vacation to places with little or no accessibility to electricity, memory is going to be a problem. More often than not, your video wouldn’t be required at a full resolution of 15.1 MP or such. Reduce the resolution as much as possible to save up space and shoot.
  4. Anticipate the motion and compose – Anticipate the movement of your subject in the coming minutes/hours and compose your shot so that the change in movement as time passes would fall within your frame.
  5. Improvise if you lack equipment – While an intervalometer is indispensable, if you don’t have one, don’t fret and instead use a remote shutter release to fire shots manually at the specified time interval. It is going to be tiring for sure, but hey something is almost always better than nothing. Although, pressing the button with hands is a strict no-no. Even a slight shake will cause glitches in the video again.
  6. Music is just as important – Now that you’ve shot all the shots and the video is ready, you might feel something is missing. Just as the photos are a treat to the eye, music is a treat to the ears and both of them together can create great impact. So spend sometime choosing suitable background score.
  7. Last but not the least, practice – Only once you shoot a timelapse or two, you will get a clearer picture of how many shots are required and at what interval.

This video above was shot at a 3MP resolution in Manual Mode with a remote shutter release.

What do you think of the timelapse that I have shot and what are your learnings so far? Tell me about your experience shooting timelapse in the comments below.

See more from Neelima Vallangi on her Travel and Photography blog and Flickr Page.

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