I would have loved to title this post „My first time-lapse movie“ – however this would not be true, since I had made and put online my first time-lapse movie in June 2011. Back then I still had my Nikon D70 and Gunther Wegner had not yet invented LR Timelapse for time-lapse photography.
Why the long „time-lapse break“?
To be honest: no idea. Maybe panorama photography had simply been more important to me through all these years. Plus, I had made an effort several times to get away from my technical photography and to drive my development more towards an artistic direction. Meaning: to make photos about something and not of something. In order to achieve this I had for example started my #Articulated-Photoproject.
With my now truly awakened interest in time-lapse photography one could argue that this effort of emancipating myself from the technical photography failed. My opinion on this: the future will show. ☺
With this blog post I would like to add the topic time-lapse photography officially to my photographic repertoire.
Time-lapse photography with the X-T1: Basic Equipment
First I would like to give you a quick overview of which photographic hardware and software you need in general if you want to start with time-lapse photography.
- A camera: Basically you can capture time-lapse images with any camera. However, your camera should give you the option to manually set parameters like focus, aperture, ISO und shutter speed so you can actively control them.
- One or several lenses: I cannot yet share experiences on which lens types are suited best for time-lapse photography. But based on gut feeling I would say that wide-angle lenses are probably suited best. I am sure I will collect valuable experiences in this area over time and will share them in a separate article with you. The images and the time-lapse video for this blog post were created with the Samyang 16mm, which was kindly provided to me by Hapa-Team.
- A stable tripod and a stable tripod head: Nothing is more upsetting when shooting time-lapse sequences than blurry or misaligned images. From my experience with long-exposure photography I can recommend Manfrotto tripods. They are solid, stable and also don’t mind rough usage at the seaside. When it comes to tripod heads, I can strongly recommend the Sirui K-20X.
- Software for editing your images: Lightroom (or a similar software) for editing, compiling and rendering your images as a time-lapse sequence. iMovie (for MAC) for converting several single time-lapse sequences to a movie.
Time-lapse photography with the X-T1: Advanced Equipment
- ND Filters: Ideally time-lapse movies should be shot using rather long exposure times (keyword: 180-degree-shutter-rule). At daylight longer exposure times, even with a small aperture, are often not possible. On the other hand, with a small aperture there is always the risk of „flickering“. Thus longer exposure times at daylight are only manageable with an ND filter. Based on my experiences with long-exposure photography I can highly recommend filters from the company LEE. It’s true that LEE filters are a little bit more expensive. However, with them you buy an attractive advantage: using adapter rings you can use them in combination with different lenses from any manufacturer.
- Slider/Dolly: With a little practice, you will pretty quickly master to shoot static time-lapse movies. You will then almost certainly feel the same way I felt: you will want to get a little more dynamics and movement into your time-lapse movies. One way to achieve this is to use a slider/dolly. This way you can realize tracking shots and even more complicated camera movements. However a slider/dolly is an investment for which I myself am currently saving up.
- Software to Create and Cut Time-Lapse Movies: In my opinion, the options of Lightroom to create time-lapse movies quickly show their limits. Thus I recommend LR Timelapse from Gunther Wegner. If the features offered by iMovie are no longer sufficient for your needs, I recommend testing FinalCut Pro or Adobe Premiere CC. For both programs, free 30-day trial versions are available.
Time-lapse photography with the X-T1: From Theory to Practice
Enough theory for now. To give you a better idea of time-lapse photography, I’ve added my time-lapse movie from our vacation in Brittany this year, together with the most important technical data.
- Camera: Fujifilm X-T1
- Lens: Samyang 16 mm F/2.0 ED AS UMC CS for Fujifilm
- Filter: Lee-Filter
- Software: Lightroom CC, LRTimelapse and iMovie
Music / Sound:
- Dexter Britain: Seeing The Future – Creative Commons Vol. 2 by Dexter Britain is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License
- Hachiko (The Faithtful Dog) by The Kyoto Connection is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License
This time-lapse movie is about two minutes long, consisting of eleven time-lapse sequences, which have been compiled out of up to four hundred single captures using LRTimelapse. I’ve used the following basic workflow:
- Using a time interval between the single images between three and five seconds
- Importing the RAW images onto my iMac
- Importing the RAW images into LRTimelapse and using the visual workflow
- Exporting the images as a time-lapse sequence from LRTimelapse
- Cutting the individual time-lapse sequences to a film and adding audio with iMovie
As is so often the case, the devil is in the details: looking at the first sequences in retrospect, I must admit that the exposure time I used for shooting them was too short. Therefore these parts appear a little „hectic“ or „choppy“. This is the result of assuming „you know things“ or „you can build on your rich history as a photographer“. So, mea culpa – at the beginning I had simply started shooting sequences without caring too much about the technical details and only afterwards I looked up how to do it properly.
Summing up – I think my first serious time-lapse movie didn’t turn out too bad. Of course there is still much potential for further development. One thing I find particularly fascinating about time-lapse photography is the close connection to the film genre, thus gaining first impressions and experiences with cutting and adding music to the time-lapse sequences.