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Timelapse Photography Tricks of the Trade

Updated on December 3, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Time Lapse tricks of the trade

Time lapse photography is an interesting aspect of photography that is really not undertaken much today because our demand for speed and the need for instant gratification. However time lapse photos can give the photographer a completely different view and understanding of the world around him/her.

  • The basic equipment and a timer is all that is really needed, and off course the right location or subject. When I have done time lapse, I normally reserve it for nature, especially blooms.

Most flower blooms will take around two hours, from start to finish, for the bloom to completely open. If you inspect your flower bed early in the morning and notice blooms that have yet to fully open, set up your camera on a tripod, attach a timer, set it for lapses of about 7 to 10 minutes each, and leave it alone for about two hours.

Upon developing the film or examining the images if digital, you will notice how the blooming process evolves. Note: by leaving alone I don't mean go somewhere else and leave the camera gear unattended.

On the technical side, I rarely use the auto mode in my camera, but for time lapse please do, as unpredictable weather and light changes can alter the image rendition.

Time lapse is especially suited for night photography but with much less waiting time. Follow the same suggestions as those for the bloom, but adjust the timer for shorter periods between snaps.

Examples for night photography would be roads, busy pedestrian streets,lighting storms, the moon, the stars, firework displays, erupting volcanoes, falling snow,sunsets and dawns, creeping shadows,and if you're really lucky an eclipse. The number of exposures is limited with film, but almost unlimited with digital, so consider your medium first.

Nature subjects besides flowers in bloom, are nesting birds, wave patterns, cloud formations, fish in aquariums, ocean & river life,and subjects that are being carried by water. Other subjects are racing sports events, people sleeping, and eating, kids jumping, jump ropes.

The results will be different from static subjects as compared to moving subjects. Keep in mind that with moving subjects blurring will create a sense of movement, the same as you would obtain from using a slow shutter speed. Blurring will not occur for lighting or fireworks as the total darkness usually present during these events will only show the bursts of light created by the light of the lighting strike and that of the fireworks.

  • For more specialized time lapse photos, such as bursting balloons, apple bursting after bullet strike etc.. you will also need a high speed synchronized flash unit along with lots of planning and safety protocols.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • bloggering profile image

      bloggering 7 years ago from Southern California

      Good photography is a real skill and alas... I just don't have it, but admire those who do.

    • The Farmers Wife profile image

      The Farmers Wife 7 years ago from Turkey

      Might give that a go :-) Love the City Lights photo. Thanks for sharing.