How to get started with timelapse photography

What you'll learn

1. The fundamentals of timelapse recording
2. How to use an intervalometer
3. How to assemble a timelapse using free software

Timelapse is a great way of making slow things look really fast. This tutorial will talk you through the absolute basics of timelapse photography.

What you'll need

  • Camera
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Intervalometer (e.g. Triggertrap Mobile app)
  • Clock (for this example)

A bit of theory

If you’ve ever watched a nature documentary, chances are you’ve seen some pretty incredible timelapse work. If you’ve seen a film of a sunflower growing and turning towards the sun in only 30 seconds, chances are that’s a timelapse too! Timelapse allows you to shrink a significant period of time (be it hours or days) into a short clip of a few seconds or minutes. The question here is: how are these made?

Video is typically recorded in 24/25 frames per second and then played back at the same speed. This means that you see motion at the same speed in which it was recorded. Timelapse on the other hand is recorded at a much slower speed (1 frame per second or less) and then played back at a standard frame rate (24/25 frames per second). This means that very slow events can appear to be moving much faster than in real time.

There are countless ways of using timelapse photography; from scientific studies of sand dunes to artistic shots of the sun sinking below the horizon. A clock is a great way of getting a feel for how timelapse speeds up time, and also makes it easy to calculate intervals.

As the interval in which the photos are captured is fairly slow, you can use a normal camera to record the frames and then stitch these together later on to create the sequence. A simple intervalometer makes this possible. The intervalometer tells the camera to take photos at a set interval, which would be your capture frame rate. There are all sorts of intervalometers on the market, including Triggertrap Mobile (which lets you use your smartphone as your camera trigger).

When shooting timelapse, flicker can be a pretty major issue.  Flicker is typically caused by a change in the exposure between frames, this can be down to the electronic shutter or aperture in your camera, but also is extremely obvious if you are using your camera in one of the automatic modes. Setting the exposure manually really is very crucial!

The finished setup

Capturing the photos

Post Processing