霞女之旅

Xia's Journey

Time Lapsing with a Nikon D7000

on May 21, 2013

A friend’s recent time lapse post reminded me of my own time lapse experiment sometime ago on 2 Feb 2013, at Pinnacles @ Duxton ~ an iconic housing project in Singapore which prides itself with a 50th storey skybridge.

Since it was a time lapse workshop conducted by one of my friends, Anthony, Ziqing and I decided to go by to give our support.

Time lapse photography is done by taking a sequential of photos captured over a period of hours and compressing them into a few seconds or minutes video. This allows the viewer to ‘fast-forward’ and view a slowly changing scene at a much faster pace, i.e. a 2 hours sunrise / sunset can be compressed into a 20 secs video. Growing plants which takes a few days / weeks can be captured in seconds.

It was my first time trying out time-lapse photography and I was very much at a loss of how and what to do since I did not really do up much research prior. On our way to the location, Ziqing gave me a ‘crash course’ on how to do a time lapse photography, and that was very much what I just needed. Below are some tips which I learnt;-

(A) PREPARING FOR THE SUNRISE / SUNSET TIME LAPSE

1. Tripod – to ensure that frames are constant and stable for the next couple of hours.

2. Intervalometer – or timer remote controller. With the intervalometer, you can program your camera to shoot at certain times and at certain intervals; such as 1 frame every 5 seconds or 1 frame every minute, and so on. It helps to keep the amount of time in-between each frame constant and evenly spaced out. At the same time, this leaves you free to go do something else, while the camera gets to work.

Newly developed DSLRs have built-in intervalometers / interval shooting function. Check your camera manual if this function is available. Below are some models of camera with this function;-

Nikon D4, Nikon D800, Nikon D800E, Nikon D600, Nikon D5200, Nikon D7000, Nikon D7001

Pentax X-5, Pentax K-01, Pentax K-30

Nexus 4

I explored and went through my Nikon D7000 and woolah… Nikon D7000 has the “interval shooting” feature built in. Unfortunately for Ziqing, who was using a Canon 5D Mark II did not have this built-in feature. Many other Canon users in our group had the same issue too. Having said that, one of my friend’s Nikon D90 did not have that feature either. The above list is not exhaustive; hence, do run through your own camera to check if it has an “Interval Shooting” feature of some sort for an easier time lapse photography.

With a built-in “interval shooting” feature on my D7000, time-lapse photography was a total breeze. All I needed to do was to program the ‘interval shooting’, leave the camera to shoot at every 30 secs interval, whilst I go for a drink, bbq, massage or even a nap and to check back again 2 hours later !

For Ziqing and many others who did not have the luxury of having this feature, an intervalometer or intervalometer software may be the next best alternative.

If you do not have an intervalometer, you could attempt to tether your camera to a laptop and let the computer software do the work of the intervalometer.

Sofortbild is a free tethering software (for Mac users) that can be used as an intervalometer.     http://www.sofortbildapp.com

There are also various tethering programs for different cameras that could render assistance to your tethered time lapse photography. Google for one that suits your camera model.

In the last alternative, where all above sources are not available, use a cable control and stand by at the camera to shoot at regular intervals.  

3. Fully Charged Batteries – as you would be shooting time lapse for continuous couple of hours, be prepared with fully charged batteries to minimise the hassle of changing batteries halfway through the shoot.

4. Sufficient Memory in SD / CF cards – Format or delete all existing pictures in SD / CF cards as you would require lots of memory for shooting continuous couple of hours.

5. For sunrise time lapse, always have a headlight with you so that you could free up both hands to set up the tripod and fiddle with the camera controls in the dark.

(B) SETTINGS FOR THE SUNRISE / SUNSET TIME LAPSE

1. Manual Focus & Turn Lens to infinity – For sunrise and sunsets, the sky goes from dark to bright or vice versa. As such, the lens is not able to detect the focusing especially so when it is in complete darkness. Set the camera to Manual Focusing and turn the lens to Infinity (as shown on the lens as ∞).

2. ISO – Set it to the lowest ISO that you camera has, i.e. ISO 100 or ISO 200.

3. “Aperture” Mode at F16 – When the aperture is being fixed at F16, the camera automatically compensates with its shutter speed. When it gets brighter (sunrise), the camera increases the shutter speed, thereby reducing the amount of light entering the camera, to enable the picture to be correctly exposed.

Similarly when it gets darker (sunset), the camera prolongs the shutter speed so as to allow more light into the camera to correctly expose the picture.

4. “Manual White Balance” – Set the white balance manually. Auto-white balance may change and fluctuate from frame-to-frame especially so when light gets brighter (sunrise) or darker (sunset) over time. By setting the white balance manually, it helps to ensure that all the photos are kept reasonably within the same look.

5. Some Mathemathics

In order to do a 10 seconds time lapse, based on a Hollywood 24 frames per second guideline, one would need ;-

10 secs x 24 frames = 240 frames.

If we need a 30 secs exposure per frame, we would need;-

30 secs x 240 frames = 7200 secs  = 120 mins = 2 hours

With that, I knew that we would need to shoot at least 2 hours, on a 30 secs per frame exposure to be able to condense 240 frames into a 10 seconds time lapse.

For the time-lapse at the end of this post, I had a total of 320 shots over 2 hours, from 6 – 8pm.

After getting all the above settings, you are on your way to starting your time lapse photography.

As I was using a Nikon D7000 with an ‘interval-shooting’ feature, my time-lapse experiment was a cruise in the sea.

Below was my little experiment experience;-

           1.     IIMG_9681n shooting mode, go to the second icon identified by the “camera logo”.

           2.   Within the “Camera logo”, scroll down to “Interval Timer Shooting”.

           3.   Click into “Interval Timer Shooting”.

2.     

IMG_9682

            4.      Choose Start Time as “Now” or a specific time.

IMG_9684

           5.      Set the interval timing; 15 secs / 30 secs / 1 minute etc, depending on what you are shooting. For sunrise / sunsets, interval timings are generally shot between 15 secs or 30 secs.

            6. IMG_9685     Set intervals to 999 x 1 shots = 999 shots so that you could get 999 shots per cycle.

            7.  IMG_9686    Click “On” and woolah… Off I went for a 2 hour massage / spa / bbq and came back to check on it two hours later.

 Now that I was done with the 320 shots from 6 – 8pm, it was time to call it a day.

(C) MERGING THE PICTURES

I had quite a bit of issue when I did my merging, until Ziqing provided me with Lightroom.

In my first round of merging, I did not resize my pictures low resolution enough and the merging and transition became quite a mess.

I learnt my lesson the hard way and thereafter I leant that I would need to resize the file small enough so that the transition would be faster and smoother.

            1.    Lightroom 01  To resize in Lightroom, go to “File > Export > Image Sizing > Resize to Fit : Long Edge at 1024 pixels and 300 pixels per inch.

 

            2.     Lightroom 02 Download Sean McCormack Lightroom plug-in.  

digital-photography-school.com/creating-easy-time-lapse-movies-in-lightroom-3-0

 

3.       In the Slideshow module, you will see the new Presets on the left. Select the Preset you desire and then make sure your recently created collection is also selected.

              4.        Add some music and titles, and you’re ready to show off your final movie!

              5.        Lastly, click on Export Video and let Lightroom do the rest!

                                                                                         

I think the above link may have been removed recently. One of my friends did the merging with Windows Movie Maker and it worked just as perfectly well.

I did the below sunset time lapse from Pinnacles at Duxton, using a Nikon D7000.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do… 🙂

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