Timelapse is fun and frustrating in equal measure. Actually, no, it's a lot more fun than frustrating, but that's not to say that it isn't very annoying when 3 hours of work ends up un-usable because of some silly mistake or oversight.
Here's what I learned about timelapse this weekend ...
1. Don’t. Touch. The Tripod. I know this is glaringly obvious but every shot that I attempted this weekend was jittery because I kept milling about near to my tripod, moving the floorboards it was sitting on, and knocking it accidentally from time to time. The smallest disturbances register on the final render as minor but jarring blips in what should be a smooth playback.
2. Shooting RAW rather than JPEG – gives you a lot more flexibility in post, but (especially with the 21 mega pixel 5D mkii) means you need high capacity cards (32GB), and increases the amount of time you spend in post significantly, as you need to convert all the RAW files to JPEGs, which takes a good amount of time. Converting 32GB of RAW images into JPEGs once you’ve made some adjustments in something like Adobe Lightroom is going to take a couple of hours.
3. You can get an unpleasant flickering that can be fixed by using a plugin called Long Exposure from CHV-Plugins. It’s very good, but some experimentation is required with the settings to get the right look. The default settings tend to merge one frame into the next a little too much, so that all the detail from your rolling clouds is lost as everything is smoothed out too much. Pulling back a little on the Timespan slider, and changing the mix to about 75% seems to get rid of the flicker without losing too much detail.
4. Weather is really important. It’s been proper glum in London for the last few weeks, and grim overcast skies don’t make for a very interesting timelapse. I was waiting in vain all weekend for some fluffy clouds but they never really emerged.
5. High failure rate. I shot about 10 timelapses over the weekend, but I think there’s only 2 decent shots in the edited video above (shot 3 and the shot of the cross-roads with the cars). The other shots are just there as filler really, and everything else ended up useless because of some problem or other.
I've had way more failures than successes with timelapse so far, but it's really fun, and very satisfying when it works. I'll definitely be back for more. Perhaps when the weather's improved a bit though!
Also, this was shot as part of a '52 weeks' photography project that I've been having a crack at where I shoot a new image every week with the only restriction being that I must shoot it at aperture f22, in order to ensure that everything in the image is sharp. You can see the rest of the project here
Props to Philip Bloom (philipbloom.co.uk) for inspiration, aswell as his seemingly never ending experimentation and verbosity.
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