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Time lapse Photography on a Digital Camera or iphone - A how to!

Make a time lapse film with your camera


This is a very simple way to get into time lapse photography. You  see time lapse film on TV every day, it looks like a large amount of time has been compressed into a matter of seconds. This quick tutorial looks at a simple method of reproducing this effect and become a time lapse photographer.

Play the video on the right and see the effect. It can be really amazing to see the subtle and sometimes bizarre effects that are going on around us all the time. We tend to only view the world in our own time frame and we only notice what our perception filters in for us.

Using this timelapse technique I can almost guarantee you will become gradually more aware of the big world that surrounds you. You will also gather some moments of your life that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

You will need:
A digital Movie camera or
an iphone or similar phone with movie function or
a movie camera that uses tapes.
an editing programme with a time stretch facility.

Getting the right shots for time lapse photography with your camera.

The process is really simple you just place your camera on a flat surface and press record. The video above took about 20 minutes to film. It was taken on an old Minolta digital camera that has a crude movie function.

I put the camera on a tripod, set it to record, went indoors and had a cup of extremely good coffee. Afterwards I just went outside to turn the camera off. Any type of movie camera will do as it really is that easy.

The way to make good time lapse photography is to be aware of what your looking at.

Photography time lapse can be used to show anything that reacts or changes with time, from the growth of a plant to the effects of light moving through a room. This makes it ideal for the natural and scientific worlds. For me it is at its best when it shows how change happens.

Before you make your first time lapse film spend some time thinking about the lighting conditions and possible changes that might occur during filming. For example the video above was taken at around sunset, so this meant that the sun was not causing too much glare and gave the available light more contrast.

I was also aware of the wind direction and the way the clouds were likely to move across the cameras focal plane. However, the rain and dissolving clouds were down to nature and this is the element of surprise that can make time-lapse photography so enjoyable when played back.

Editing time-lapse in an editing program for complete control.

My editing program is Adobe Premiere. When you load your film into it the program has a function to multiply or reduce the speed with which the footage is played back.

In the program you right click the clip and click the speed/duration option. I think I sped this footage up by x 500, or to put it another way the playback was 500 times faster than the original footage was filmed at.

I think that most editing programs have this function in them in some form these days. There is free time lapse software and editing software and a quick google search should find this. You may even find your computer came with a video editing program that can do this.

This is the point that you can really start to see what has happened during your coffee break! It is worth finding the most interesting changes in your footage and using the speed/duration option to experiment with the overall look of your time lapse films.

Experiment with time until you find the best speed to look at it.

I have found at times that keeping the original speed has been as interesting to watch as it would have been to see it 10000 time faster. So again as in the filming try to get into the habit of being aware what you are looking at and try to focus on any interesting changes or lighting conditions that will give your footage interest.

There are hundreds of cloud time lapse films on YouTube but only a few  have any attention value above 30 seconds of viewing.

See another time-lapse film


See another time lapse photography film