Guide Time Lapse Photography



Although, it is one of the most tedious forms of nature photography, the results are usually extraordinary. A flower bud bursting open into full bloom… a sprout emerging from the ground… a fern unfurling are some delightful scenes that can be captured. The easiest subject for time lapse is a sunrise or a sunset.

Time lapse photography is the reverse of slow motion photography. In slow motion, the film is shot at high speed at about 64 frames per second and is displayed at regular projection speed of about 16-24 frames per second. In time lapse, the film is shot at very slow speed of about 1-2 frames per minute and displayed at regular projection speed. The action will appear to be tremendously accelerated, giving you a different perspective to normal life.

Essential things for a successful time lapse photograph are:

* A camera (preferably digital)
* A tripod to keep the camera steady in the exact position
* A steadily moving subject
* A uniform light source for all exposures

To begin with, for your first experiment, choose a fast opening flower for an indoor time lapse shoot. For outdoors, you could choose a sunset which gives a dramatic effect.

1. Mount the camera onto a tripod. a strudy platform like a table or a pulpit also works fine.
2. Ensure steady and uniform lighting.
3. Focus on the subject and zoom in or out to get the best possible composition.
4. For a landscape shoot like a sunset, set the aperture high to get better depth of field. for a close-up of a flower, reduce the aperture to blur out the background.
5. You need to calculate the number of frames needed to capture an activity. For a sunset, which will last 15-20 minutes, you need to shoot a frame every 30 seconds. For a budding flower, which will take 120 minutes to open, you could shoot a frame every 60 seconds.
6. If you have an advanced SLR camera, you can set the camera automatically to take time lapse frames at regular intervals.

If you have a digital camera, your results are obvious to you. This is one advantage which makes digital far better than the old film camera. However, Nostalgiphiliacs may not appreciate the advantages. They would rather prefer the old tedious and eco-harmful way of going to the studio and processing their film to see the result!

Coming back to the topic, you need to stitch together the photo frames to get a movie-like effect. Remember, if you want to image process your frames in Photoshop, you need to do it to all the frames to get uniformity. Rather you should focus on getting the best composition and lighting during the shoot and leave it at that.

MS-Powerpoint offers a simple non-geek solution of stitching the frames together. Place all the frames in one slide and give custom animation of fade-in and fade-out for each frame. But this process is quite tedious and inaccurate. Rather you should have image processing software like IrfanView or AC-DC which give the option of automatic slideshow with frame speed control. Create a slideshow with a suggested speed of 2-3 frames per second. You can save the file as an .EXE file which will run on its own.

Info source: Field Book of Nature Activities and Conservation

Image credits: The copyright for the images used in this article belong to their respective owners. Best known credits are given under the image. For changing the image credit or to get the image removed from Caleidoscope, please contact us.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me.


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