I ordered an intervalometer off eBay back in December. After waiting 49 days for delivery (I even opened up a dispute case with eBay because the time limit was about to expire, then it came the very next day), I got it, and played around with it.
So far, I’ve done 3 time lapses, and learnt some stuff.
Time lapse the first – The Night sky
First time, so can’t say much. I experimented with timing, and ended up using 60 seconds per exposure. Camera didn’t natively support that, so I used the intervalometer to do the actual exposure, and left the camera on bulb mode. However, due to a quirk with the intervalometer, it can’t do successive long exposure shots, so I had to set it up to do 60 second shots with an interval of one second in between.
- Kept stuff on manual. Exposure was defined – 60 sec/f5/ISO 200. Prefocused using AF, then switched to manual.
- 60 seconds got the streaking of clouds.
- Because it’s sky, I used the side of the apartment block/lift motor room as a static object.
- Photoshop didn’t have a problem picking up the image sequence because the file numbers were 9552-9683.
- Light conditions were fairly constant, so I didn’t need to worry about pictures being overexposed or underexposed.
- I took the camera off the tripod mid-sequence to check the pictures already taken. Putting it back on didn’t precisely match up, so the apartment block appears to shift mid-sequence.
- One of the camera batteries suddenly refuses to charge. Since this battery was in a charger when the adaptor died (and took out the circuit breaker for the entire house), the battery was probably killed. Oops.
Things I learnt:
- I left auto white balance on. And shot JPG, so Lightroom can’t sync the white balance settings across images. However, this led to interesting colour shifts as the camera took into account the amount of cloud cover vs the sky. I’ll have to remember this whenever I shot other time lapses, because the change in tone will work for some situations (case in point, the clouds), but not for others.
Time lapse the second – CBD at Dawn
More dynamic subject than the first. Also, changing lighting conditions meant that I had to use the auto exposure. The camera was in Av mode at f5.6, with focus done by AF on the buildings, and ISO fixed at 200. Setting on the intervalometer was just 1 minute intervals, meaning that every minute the shutter would be triggered.
Interesting fact about the intervalometer: It seems to trigger the autofocus ~4-5 seconds before a shot. My camera would sound off the autofocus successful beep 4-5 seconds before triggering the shutter, and the intervalometer is the only thing that could be causing it.
- For the most part, the change in lighting conditions was handled fine, except for dawn, where the sky brightened before the buildings. A Grad ND filter might help tone down the sky, but I get the feeling it’d adversely affect the night shots, where the sky is already darker than the buildings.
- Clouds at dawn were impressive, and the darkening of the building gave it an ominous feel.
- Didn’t touch the tripod this time, so no camera movement!
- Just doing a time lapse with all the photos isn’t working. The balance of shots in the exported movie is off, to the extent that there’s a nice slow introduction, and then the ending feels rushed.
- Photoshop had problems with the filenaming. The sequence wrapped around, so it necessitated some mucking around with custom naming schemes. “Time Lapse n.jpg” seemed to work.
- The battery that I tagged as ‘suspiciously low charge’ when I got the camera second hand now refuses to hold a charge. Down to one battery now…
Things I learnt:
- Photoshop is picky about the naming of the images in a sequence. “Time Lapse n of xxx.jpg” didn’t work. “Time Lapse n – _MG_1234.jpg” also didn’t work. I’m betting it looks at the end of the filename after removing the file extension.
- I should probably take a few extra images after some significant change (ie. dawn) to give the time lapse a certain sense of stability. Stopping soon after a transition just feels strange, especially where the initial part takes up more than half the time lapse.
Time lapse the third – CBD Sunset & Night
Trying to get the entire sequence of sunset -> sunrise. Night gives a nicer feel to the time lapse, probably because it’s a long exposure. During the day I’ll need ND filters to get the same feel of movement. Also tried to cut out the long night scenes by introducing a 3 hour pause – Shot from 7PM – 1AM, set the timer for 3 hour wait, so it restarted at 4AM.
- Stress tested my sole remaining battery, works fine. Took 531 shots till it ran flat.
- Possible to introduce a break in between, but have to manually stop the intervalometer, and set up the delay.
- Timing of the transition for day to night was good.
- Erg. Focused on sky, so buildings are out of focus. For next time: Focus on the closer stuff! It’s obvious when the closer stuff is out of focus, not the distant objects!
- Also, framing was off. Got a bit of the ceiling in the top left, despite deliberately framing it so I couldn’t see it. Lesson: Review the test shot, especially for known problem areas.
- Transition between the 1AM/4AM pictures are a bit obvious. Maybe do layer masking in PS to create an inbetween frame to make the jump less obvious?
Things I learnt:
- Framing and focus. Need to be careful about them.