Time lapse - a how-to guide using a Lightroom-based workflow

eoren1eoren1 Major grinsMarblehead, MARegistered Users Posts: 2,391 Major grins
edited May 19, 2014 in Video
I am by no means an expert having only been at time lapses for 2 weeks but have found them quite addicting. Below is my current workflow for shooting and processing time lapses via Lightroom. There are great resources for this on the web but I was asked to share what I am currently doing so here goes. This workflow requires very little to no added investment to get started with time lapse photography.

Before leaving the house, make sure you have:
Full battery, empty CF (enough space for 200-400 images)

Settings:
Most prefer manual mode but you can use Av mode if expect large change in exposure (i.e. sunset)
Av mode at f/8 or less (i.e. more open)
At max aperture, you eliminate aperture flicker (electronic apertures will waver around set point)
Or make your lens a manual one: After choosing aperture in Av mode, hold DOF button while unscrewing lens to just past point of electrical coupling. Lens is now a manual one and won't have aperture changed. If get err99 on Canon, may need to rotate a bit more.
ISO 100-400
Goal shutter speed longer than 1/100s to minimize shutter flicker
Turn off review of photo to save battery
RAW preferred to allow latitude for adjustments in post
Set a WB

Place camera on tripod, level, attach intervalometer.
I bought this for my Canon 350D:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Q9RERY
And this for my Canon 50D:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003F69JBW
I thought I would use my 50D for this but it makes much more sense to use your backup camera for time-lapse as each one will eat up 200-500 shutter actuations

Set focus on camera and switch lens to manual focus to lock. Make sure IS is off.
Decouple lens from camera to lock in aperture.
Make sure lens hood is not vignetting if have flower style one
Cover the eyepiece

Decide on an interval (ballpark figures from timescapes.com forum):
Fast moving clouds: 1 second
Slow moving clouds: 10 seconds
Sun moving across a clear sky: (wide) 20-30 seconds
Stars moving across the sky: (wide) between 20-60 seconds
Sunsets close up: 1-2 seconds
Crowds of people: 1-2 seconds
Plants growing eg cucumber vines: 2 minutes
Shadows moving across the ground: 10-20 seconds

Vincent Laforet gives a ballpark figure of 6 seconds to start from

You can also use the following to estimate your interval:
Time shooting (i.e. 60 minutes) divided by Time of final movie (i.e. 10 seconds) at 24 fps
- Need 10x24 images in 3600 seconds = 15 second interval

Set it and forget it….

At home:
Download LRtimelapse (lrtimelapse.com) and LR presets on site. Move them to appropriate folders
Import images into Lightroom with LRtimelapse develop preset
Open first image and adjust settings
Recover for sky, fill light for foreground, saturation, lens correction
Select all and sync settings
Save metadata to image
Open LRtimelapse and navigate to folder where images were imported
Wait for it to load all images
Click Deflicker and leave settings as-is
Select first image in list, shift-select last image and click on Linear (or other on list)
Save and exit
In Lightroom, all images should still be selected. Click read metadata from images.

Switch to Slideshow module
Click preset for 24fps
Add watermark if desired
Export with Ultra high quality 1080p 24fps video setting

Upload to Smugmug and share with the world.

I'm still unsure about setting contrast to the medium or strong curve in LR and/or sharpening images prior to the LRtimelapse stage. I would welcome others input on this.

Thanks and hope this was useful

Comments

  • wolf911wolf911 Major grins North DakotaRegistered Users Posts: 273 Major grins
    edited August 7, 2011
    wow, fantastic write up on your work flow, it's been interesting to follow you through the process. Time to order an intervalometer I guess, got the rest under control.
  • ThatCanonGuyThatCanonGuy Artist/Entrepreneur/Nomad SarasotaRegistered Users Posts: 1,778 Major grins
    edited August 7, 2011
    Great tutorial, thanks for taking the time to write it up! Now I want to do timelapses... Tell ya one thing... you're making a lot of money for those intervalometer sellers on Amazon rolleyes1.gif

    For those that don't have LR, I tried a time lapse in Proshow Gold and it worked fine (no I didn't use an intervalometer, and yeah, it didn't look too good. But it worked).

    BTW, you live in a nice town :D
  • eoren1eoren1 Major grins Marblehead, MARegistered Users Posts: 2,391 Major grins
    edited August 7, 2011
    Great tutorial, thanks for taking the time to write it up! Now I want to do timelapses... Tell ya one thing... you're making a lot of money for those intervalometer sellers on Amazon <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/6029383/emoji/rolleyes1.gif&quot; border="0" alt="" >

    No problem. And how can I not recommend a <$20 device compared to the official ones that cost 5x that <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/6029383/emoji/eek7.gif&quot; border="0" alt="" >
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Illinois cornfieldSuper Moderators Posts: 22,891 moderator
    edited August 8, 2011
    Wonderful tutorial and an excellent primer into getting into timelapse photography and video.

    The only thing I would add is that LRTimelapse also works for the ACR that comes with Photoshop. The method and procedure is at their site.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • jchinjchin J.Chin Photography New York CityRegistered Users Posts: 713 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2011
    What do you mean by "Decouple lens from camera to lock in aperture"?
    Johnny J. Chin ~ J. Chin Photography
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    SmugMug referral coupon code: ix3uDyfBU6xXs
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  • eoren1eoren1 Major grins Marblehead, MARegistered Users Posts: 2,391 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2011
    Probably should have repeated this part from above:
    Or make your lens a manual one: After choosing aperture in Av mode, hold DOF button while unscrewing lens to just past point of electrical coupling. Lens is now a manual one and won't have aperture changed. If get err99 on Canon, may need to rotate a bit more.
  • jchinjchin J.Chin Photography New York CityRegistered Users Posts: 713 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2011
    Hmm ... I never though a lens would work if I unscrewed it (partially) from the body. I'll have to try this tonight. Thanks for the lesson.
    Johnny J. Chin ~ J. Chin Photography
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  • eoren1eoren1 Major grins Marblehead, MARegistered Users Posts: 2,391 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2011
    You need to do it just enough to clear the electric coupling. You'll see the aperture change to 00 in the viewfinder. However, the shutter speed should be the same as it was before uncoupling. All this does is 'freeze' your aperture so there can be no fluctuations.
  • ipatryipatry Big grins MaineRegistered Users Posts: 81 Big grins
    edited August 26, 2012
    Are there any free programs that can make a timelapse out of your photos. All I have is motion 5 and final cut pro for my video editing. But I'm not sure if they can make a timelapse.
  • JCJC Major grins Registered Users Posts: 768 Major grins
    edited August 28, 2012
    ipatry- what operating system?

    and now for the most supremely unhelpful post, I use Openshot. It's Linux though, so that's probably of absolutely no help at all.
    Yeah, if you recognize the avatar, new user name.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Illinois cornfieldSuper Moderators Posts: 22,891 moderator
    edited August 29, 2012
    ipatry wrote: »
    Are there any free programs that can make a timelapse out of your photos. All I have is motion 5 and final cut pro for my video editing. But I'm not sure if they can make a timelapse.

    At a very basic level, which is simple assembly of individual frames into a video file, this looks pretty good (assuming that you meet the requirements of - Intel, OS X 10.6 or later, QuickTime 7.2.1 or later):

    http://www.dayofthenewdan.com/projects/time-lapse-assembler-1

    Later you may want to do some frame interpolation to smooth the motion, etc., and I would hope that FCP can help with that.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • Floridiot MoodyFloridiot Moody Beginner grinner Atlantic Beach, FLRegistered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    edited May 19, 2014
    1st attempt. Big project.
    This is a huge help so far. I'm a bit green when it comes to knowledge of my camera equipment. I've decided to use my XT/350D this weekend to attempt a time lapse project. As always, I'm going big on my first time out. I have an endurance car race that I'm participating in this weekend at Daytona International Raceway. Anyway, I plan to set up the camera in a position overlooking pit lane with the start/finish line in the background. I'll start shooting around sunrise, and the 14 hour race will go into night. I ordered a Neewar intervalometer, and an a/c adapter for the Canon. I plan to shoot 30 sec intervals which gives me about 1800 shots over about 15 hours which should yield about 1 minute at 30fps. I plan to use manual focus, and was planning to shoot in Program mode, but it sounds like Av might be preferable? I don't know about white balance either. Again much will be shot during the daylight, but transitioning to night with stadium lights providing some illumination.

    Any advice? Settings? White balance? Anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Illinois cornfieldSuper Moderators Posts: 22,891 moderator
    edited May 19, 2014
    ... I plan to use manual focus, and was planning to shoot in Program mode, but it sounds like Av might be preferable? I don't know about white balance either. Again much will be shot during the daylight, but transitioning to night with stadium lights providing some illumination.

    Any advice? Settings? White balance? Anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

    Manual focus is generally best, so stay with your plan.

    Program mode will automatically slow to 1/60th shutter speed when light gets low. Av mode (Aperture Priority) generally works better for me (than P-mode), but you may still have to override the ISO as the light changes dramatically.

    Shoot to RAW files and plan on post-processing for white balance.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • Floridiot MoodyFloridiot Moody Beginner grinner Atlantic Beach, FLRegistered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    edited May 19, 2014
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    Manual focus is generally best, so stay with your plan.

    Program mode will automatically slow to 1/60th shutter speed when light gets low. Av mode (Aperture Priority) generally works better for me (than P-mode), but you may still have to override the ISO as the light changes dramatically.

    Shoot to RAW files and plan on post-processing for white balance.

    Thanks! Do you have an ISO recommendation for day and night in these conditions? I'm not sure I have the capacity to shoot raw, so I may have to choose a setting and go with it.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Illinois cornfieldSuper Moderators Posts: 22,891 moderator
    edited May 19, 2014
    Thanks! Do you have an ISO recommendation for day and night in these conditions? I'm not sure I have the capacity to shoot raw, so I may have to choose a setting and go with it.

    RAW is vital. Knowing correct ISOs for the current conditions is also important. (Correct ISOs will vary with atmospheric conditions, time-of-day, shutter speed requirements, etc.)

    You need some more experience manually shooting this sort of event before you can successfully shoot a time lapse of the Daytona International Raceway.

    Choosing a single setting and shooting to JPGs while transiting 15 hours and daylight to dark is just a recipe for failure. Feel free to try it but count on me to say, "I told you so" when it doesn't work out. (But I'll find a way to say it nicely.) :D

    I strongly suggest setting up your system somewhere similar to what you expect to find at Daytona. Try some different settings and see what works, and what doesn't work. You'll save yourself a lot of aggravation later on.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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