How to shoot a road trip timelapse

What you'll learn

1.How to safely mount a camera inside the car
2.Why distance intervals can be more useful than time intervals
3.How to create a road trip timelapse

Road trips are great fun, but they can also make for some awesome timelapse videos. Here’s our take on how to shoot the best road trip timelapse.

What you'll need

  • Camera
  • Triggertrap Mobile Kit (Buy Here)
  • Smartphone
  • Suction Cup Mount / Super Clamp and Camera Arm / Tripod

A bit of theory

Before we start, it’s worth knowing how to use your camera in manual exposure and manual focus and also how to shoot and assemble a basic timelapse. If you’re not sure about any of these steps, it’s worth taking a look at our basic tutorials.

A typical timelapse takes photographs based on a time interval – for example, taking one photo every two seconds – which is perfect for most setups. For something like a timelapse of your cross country journey, shooting every 30 seconds or so could work well, but when you get stuck in that inevitable traffic jam, you’re going to end up with a boring segment of your video looking at the back of the static car in front of you. Luckily, Triggertrap Mobile has a neat mode called DistanceLapse which can help you get around this! DistanceLapse uses the GPS sensor in your smartphone and allows you to trigger the phone by distance intervals rather than time.

A key factor when it comes to shooting road trip timelapse videos is how you mount your camera. There are a number of options, but the most important factor to consider is safety. Most countries around the world have some guidelines on where things can be mounted on the windscreen, so be sure not to break any laws or obscure your vision when driving.

As far as mounting your camera goes, you do have several choices. One of the easiest and possibly most convenient ways of mounting the camera in the car is with a suction cup mount. These allow you to securely and safely mount your camera inside the car.

If you don’t wish to use a suction cup mount, it is certainly possible to wedge a tripod in the back of the car, or use a superclamp. We’ve found that mounting the super clamp on the stalks for the passenger headrest gives a great mounting point for a tripod head, and also allows you to keep the driver’s vision totally unobstructed.

If you’re on a particularly long road trip, then you may want to think about investing in an external power supply for your smartphone!

When it comes to setting up the camera, you have two options, both of which have their own inherent difficulties. The first option is to leave the camera on aperture priority and it should hopefully give a good exposure throughout. The main issue with timelapse and aperture priority is that it will introduce a fair amount of flicker into the final video, unless dealt with in post production through software such as LRTimelapse. Shooting in manual will undoubtedly create less flicker, though there is a fair chance that throughout the trip, the light conditions will change and some sections may be over- or under-exposed. If you’re shooting in aperture priority, shooting raw may not be a terrible idea – just make sure you have a big enough memory card in your camera to handle a lot of files.

Setting up

Capturing the photos

Post Processing

Now that you have taken all your photos, check out our tutorial on how to assemble a timelapse and enjoy the final product!


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