How to do time lapse photography: tips for best practice

How to do time lapse photography: tips for best practice

Have you wondered how to do time lapse photography? All you need is your camera and some free time lapse software. Here’s how to do it.

How to do time lapse photography: tips for best practice

Fancy capturing people rushing around crowded cities or the transition of day into night? Time-lapse may seem tricky, but it’s actually easy.

The most important requirement is an interval timer, which many Nikon and Pentax cameras have built-in. If your camera doesn’t have this, you can buy a remote control such as the Hähnel Giga T Pro II, or use an app to control your camera from a tablet or smart phone – try DSLR Controller or try ioShutter.

Each shot will become a single frame of video, so it will be played back at around 25 frames per second. This means if you shoot one frame every second, a minute’s shooting is 60 frames, and will give you just over 2 seconds of video.

For fast-moving subjects try an interval of one to two seconds, while for slow-moving subjects you’ll get more obvious movement if you use an interval of ten seconds or more.

You’ll then need to compile your video, which can be done in most video-editing software. Google Picasa is a great free alternative time lapse software.

Top time lapse photography tips

Top time lapse photography tips: interval timer

Interval timer
You’ll need an interval timer to take your shots. Many recent Nikon cameras have this built-in, but otherwise you’ll need a remote control that offers this facility. The Hähnel Giga T Pro II will fit the remote control socket on a range of digital cameras (


Top time lapse photography tips: best camera settings

Camera settings
To ensure the exposure, colour and focus remain the same throughout your time-lapse video, put your camera in Manual mode and choose one of the preset white balance options, such as Daylight or Cloudy, to suit the lighting conditions. Switch to manual focus too.


Top time lapse photography tips: set the interval

Set the interval
Now decide how long there will be between each shot. This depends on how fast the subject is changing, but for a landscape with clouds moving fast across the sky start with one shot per second. For slower moving subjects try selecting between two and five seconds.


Top time lapse photography tips: make your time lapse movie

Make your movie
In Picasa, select all the time-lapse images, then click on Create Movie Presentation. Select Time Lapse in the Transition Style drop-down menu, 1/25 sec for the Slide Duration and 1280×720 from the Resolution options. Finally, click on Create Video to save your finished file.


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