USING ADVANCED TIME-LAPSE TECHNIQUESOnce you've mastered simple time-lapse movies, you may want to explore more advanced techniques. Here are two that will really spice up your time-lapse moviemaking.
The Panning Time-Lapse Shot. Have you ever watched a time-lapse movie that slowly pans sideways past rocks and flowers as the clouds whiz past overhead? The lateral movement in the shot adds a very professional look. How do you create this panning motion over hours of shooting a time-lapse sequence? You need a special motorized dolly system.
When I first saw a panning time-lapse sequence, I knew I needed to shoot one. For that task, I purchased a motorized dolly system from Dynamic Perception (www.dynamicperception.com). This company offers the Stage Zero system, which includes a six-foot track, a motorized slider and a controller with an intervalometer.
Dynamic Perception has excellent tutorials on their website, and I was up and shooting in minutes with their system. The Stage Zero not only can be set up horizontally, but you also can create vertical panning movement, as well. Imagine slowly panning past the trunk of a bristlecone pine tree as the stars rotate above. Adding movement to your time-lapse movies opens up endless creative possibilities.
The Sunset/Sunrise Time-Lapse Shot. Some of the most dramatic time-lapse movies record sunrise and sunsets. Visualize warm light slowly illuminating snowy mountains and crystalline lakes as the sun rises into the clear sky. But this scene presents a big challenge. How do you set your exposure for this dramatic shift in lighting?
REMOTE + INTERVALOMETER
Affordable and useful, the Hähnel Giga T Pro II is not only a fully programmable intervalometer for time-lapse photography with delay, exposure-count and exposure-length settings, but it's also a wireless remote with a 300-foot range with bulb and self-timer capabilities, nice for triggering your shutter from a distance or avoiding camera shake with long exposures. List Price: $129. Contact: Hähnel (R.T.S. Inc.), www.rtsphoto.com.
For a sunrise sequence, try using this technique. When you process your images in Lightroom, choose the first frame in the sunrise sequence and set the exposure to approximately one stop underexposed. When you apply these Develop settings to the rest of the sequence images, the final overexposed images after the sun has risen should be about the right exposure, with few blown-out highlights.
Your movie will start out a little underexposed, but should have detail in the shadow areas. The movie will quickly transition into brighter scenes, and the final shots shouldn't be overexposed.
You can adjust the underexposure depending on how bright the last scene is. For sunsets, start with the brightest shot and add more light to it, just to the point of being overexposed. Then apply this bump in exposure to all the images in the sequence, and the final shots after the sun goes down shouldn't be too dark.
Time-lapse photography is a quick and easy way to liven up your photography. The next time you're watching clouds race overhead, grab your camera and shoot a time-lapse sequence. You won't believe how good accelerated time can look.