Timelapse Checklist

Cover photo by Tanya Musgrave.

You can’t have failed to notice that here at Triggertrap, we love to timelapse. It’s an awesome technique that provides you with both a fantastic set of stills as well as a potentially stunning video. However, the long-term nature of timelapsing means that one single (and small) mistake can, at the least, leave you with the painstaking task of correcting a run of photos shot over hours, days, or even weeks. The worst case scenario is that you ruin the entire sequence of images.  But the rewards of timelapse far outweigh the frustrations, so we've put a handy checklist together to help banish those potential timelapse mishaps, leaving you to timelapse with confidence.

Necessary kit 

  • DSLR camera
  • Tripod 
  • Intervalometer 
  • Spare batteries
  • Spare memory card 

Optional kit

  • Battery pack for your phone - If you are using Triggertrap Mobile as your intervalometer and you are going to be shooting for several hours, it's worth bringing some extra juice for your phone.
  • Warm clothing - Particularly if you are going to be shooting in the colder months or at night you'll want to wear something warm. Standing still for long periods can get pretty chilly. 

If you're looking for some timelapse inspiration, LapseWorld is the place to look. Photographers from all backgrounds in London, New York, San Francisco, Milan, and Cape Town came together for a series of one day timelapse events, to create an ambitious crowdsourced timelapse of these five cities.

Before you leave

  1. Can you use a tripod at your chosen location? - Once you've chosen your timelapse location, make sure to read up on the regulations concerning photography. In city centres and local parks you may find there could be restrictions for using tripods. Make sure you never shoot on private property without prior permission.
  2. Is everything charged, spares and all?
  3. Are your memory cards formatted? 

On location

  1. First things first when setting up, you want to check that there is plenty of movement in your scene that will show up well in the timelapse (for example people walking, clouds moving).
  2. When framing up, check that your scene works well in 16:9 (the ratio of HD video). You can easily do this by using live view and switching briefly to video mode.
  3. Make sure to set up in a place where your tripod can't get nudged at all. It's crucial for editing that your camera doesn't move.
  4. When it comes to settings you want everything in manual mode. That's focus, exposure, and white balance.
  5. Make sure to set an appropriate interval between your shots. We have some suggestions below to help you out.
  6. Check the focus, and then check again. The most frustrating thing is finding an entire set of hundreds of out-of-focus photos.

Suggested intervals
Slow clouds: 10 seconds
Fast clouds: 3 seconds
People walking: 2 seconds
Cars driving: 1 second

Have you got any top timelapse tips? 

We want to hear them! Join the conversation over on Twitter and Facebook by tagging us @Triggertrap and #Triggertrap. Don't forget to show us your timelapses over on Instagram, or why not dive into our timelapse database, Primelapse.

If you want to get stuck into timelapse but are worried about falling into those well known clichés, make sure to check out our blog post on how to avoid that!

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