DSLR Photo Tip, Give Time Lapse Photography A Shot!

Continuing with our series of DSLR photo tips on features your camera has but you probably aren’t aware of, or using… Today’s photo tip involves time lapse photography.

This one will make a TERRIFIC weekend project – and will create something few if any of your photo friends have ever done. Many may not have even seen it done!

But, I’ve got some bad news for you Canon owners. You probably don’t have this feature built into your camera. (In a minute, I’ll show you how to do it anyway!)

You Nikon owners are golden!

In a Nikon DSLR, the time lapse photography feature is built in. You can find it in the menu – it is called “interval timer shooting”.

In case you don’t know, time lapse photography is a series of photographs – of the same subject – taken over a period of time and then put together in a video series.

You create the shots by setting up your camera on a tripod and shooting a frame every second, two seconds, every minute… whatever you decide is the best interval.

It can create some pretty interesting little 25 or 30 second videos!

Of course you want subjects that will change in some way over the course of the shooting, but can still be photographed from one location.

For example, shooting a flower as it opens up, or a sunset, sunrise, fast moving clouds – you name it. Here is your chance to do something truly creative and learn more about how your camera works – all at the same time!

You will most likely want to set your camera on manual so that the exposure settings remain constant throughout the interval.

With a Nikon, just find the “interval timer shooting” menu. Then first you can decide to delay the start of the shots or start immediately. Next you will enter how many hours minutes and seconds between shots. An example would be 01:05:15. This example is telling the camera to take a shot once every hour, five minutes and fifteen seconds.

If you wanted a shot every 10 seconds, the setting would be: 00:00:10.

Then enter the total number of shots you want in total. A good tip here is to set this as high as possible because you can always stop it later, but you can’t add.

Finally the third number is how many shots you want the camera to take between intervals. Since you most likely set the timer in the first set of numbers to correspond with each shot you want, this number will be set to one.

Then you are done and can start shooting!

If you have a Canon camera system, as of this writing, they haven’t yet added this functionality. (As far as I know.) But all is not lost.

There is a way!

There is a cable release system built for Canon that has a timer and can be set to shoot the time lapse photos. They only cost a few bucks and may be worth having. In addition to time lapse photos, they can be used as a normal single shot timed shutter release to avoid camera shake in your landscapes.

Here is a really ugly link to check them out, just copy and paste it in your browser:


Once you have your photos, you can edit them if necessary – in Photoshop or Gimp ( Gimp is free) then save them all in one folder which you will then upload to Picassa (Picassa is free too!)

Make sure all the photos are selected and click the “Create Movie Presentation” icon.

The photos are immediately made into a movie! Then in the editing options select “Transition Style” and finally from the drop down select “Time Lapse.” Select the frame rate and video size you want. Click the create movie button and Picassa will compile the images into a movie that you can then save.

For a fun weekend project, use today’s DSLR photo tip and try doing some time lapse photography! ANY project you do that can teach you more about your camera will eventually show in your other work, so it is worth while even if you aren’t particularly interested in time lapse photography.

Mildred K. Pearson

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