There are so many different ways you can apply timelapse techniques to speed up time and show the world at a different pace to that which we normally see in our daily lives that it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are all kinds of questions from gear to technique and there’s a lot of overwhelming information to deal with.
In this video, timelapse photographer Joe DiGiovanna, who’s currently in the process of shooting a 30-year-long timelapse of New York City goes through five of his top tips for getting started with timelapse photography.
- Start Simple – You can shoot timelapse just fine with a smartphone when you’re starting out with the least amount of confusing fuss. It’s as simple as tapping an on-screen button much of the time. You can even incorporate a gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile to create motion-controlled moving timelapses with relative easy.
- Power – Use USB power banks to power your phones and cameras for the long periods of time that timelapses can require without having to rely solely on internal batteries that may die much sooner than you need. You can also use even larger portable power sources like V-Mount batteries.
- Control – Depending on what you’re shooting, you’ll get used to the interval you need for different types of shots. Many smartphone camera apps with timelapse shooting features will just figure things out for you. But if you want to get more control, there are a number of apps that will let you choose how long you want to shoot for, how long you want the final footage to last and it’ll tell you what interval you need. For DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, you’ll likely want an intervalometer, too. Some have an interval timer built-in, but they’re usually not the greatest. You can buy one or you can do like I did and make your own.
- Don’t touch the camera – This is one of the more difficult things for newer timelapse shooters to get used to. You think you can just hit the playback button between shots, flick through the last few images and everything will be fine. But no. No matter how careful you are, you will move the camera even if just very slightly. Don’t touch it. And use multiple cameras, where possible to shoot more compositions simultaneously to save time.
- Post processing – If you’re shooting on your phone, it’s likely already done for you. But if you’re shooting on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’re going to have a bunch of separate image files to deal with that you’ll need to process and edit together into a final video sequence. There are a lot of ways to do this. Joe mentions LRTimelapse and Lightroom. Personally, I process and assemble my timelapses in DaVinci Resolve (and I’ll have a post about that workflow coming soon).
So you don’t really need super-advanced camera systems to shoot timelapse. The main things are that you’re able to set your camera down on a solid tripod or gimbal (or slider) in a fixed location, that you can get a consistent interval and that you have a way to spit out a final video at the end of it all. You can start doing it with gear that you already own.
Once you get more and more into it, yeah, it can start to get tricky – especially once you start doing things like day-to-night timelapses, or incorporating timelapse with flash – but it’s easy to get started. The trick is to just keep shooting and shooting as much and as often as you can, and just keep learning new things each time.
What’s your top tip for timelapse beginners?