Landscape photography has the goal of capturing beautiful scenery and sharing it with others. The most common subject of landscape photography is nature. Hills, mountains, meadows, and river canyons are common subjects. If desired, landscape photos can also have a town or a village in the background.
Adding time-lapse to the mix makes it look even more appealing. Time-lapse landscape photography has become immensely popular in the recent years. You could be the first in your area to capture unique photos of the surrounding hills with a day/night cycle in the background or the motion of a local waterfall.
One of the biggest focuses of time-lapse photography is to shoot natural phenomena, such as the motion of stars or water. For example, if you look at some time-lapse photos of landscapes, you will notice the uniquely mystical atmosphere that only time-lapse photography can achieve.
The Canon 80D is a versatile DSLR with a built-in Time-Lapse Movie feature that allows even beginners to shoot breathtaking time-lapse videos. The camera does an excellent job of creating videos without the need for editing on a computer.
Time-lapse landscape photography is quite often done in low-light environments (e.g. shooting stars) and the 24.2MP Canon 80D has a 45-point, all cross-type autofocus system with an excellent low luminance performance. The AF system has four area selection modes that give full control to the photographer.
If you are ready to get started with shooting time lapses of gorgeous scenery, here are 5 tips on how to do it.
Have Plenty Of Time And Patience
Before heading out to do some time lapses, you should always make sure to have plenty of time on your hands. More often than not, time-lapses can take a lot of time.
For example, if you want to capture a day/night cycle of a landscape, this would mean that you would have to be close to your camera for 24 hours. The results would nonetheless be worth your time and effort and the time-lapse video would be truly unique. The Canon 80D is capable of shooting an unlimited number of shots, making it an excellent fit for any time lapse.
Time-lapse videos are often only a few seconds long. It is up to the photographer to decide if a particular landscape is worth investing the time and patience it takes to shoot the scene. Sometimes a few minutes are more than enough and shooting for hours would provide little more.
This means that you have to study your subject beforehand. For example, if the only motion in the video is that of clouds, it is best to choose a windy day. This would save a lot of time and would achieve the same result.
It is extremely important to be properly equipped for the shooting. If the day is sunny and hot, having an ample amount of sunscreen is important to avoid having a bad sunburn the following day. Also, make sure to check the weather for the day and wear appropriate clothes.
Have Proper Camera Equipment
Having all the gear in the world without any external batteries means nothing since you would not be able to take many time lapses. Having at least one battery will double the number of shots you can take in one session. If you are a beginner, you may not be experienced with battery management so having a few extras is always recommended.
The battery of the Canon 80D is rated for 960 shots. That is a very solid number. However, time-lapse photography is notorious for eating through battery life. This means that having at least one external battery is essential if you are planning to take multiple shots or a very long video.
If your goal is to shoot a long time lapse, such as an entire night full of starlight, it is better to be safe than sorry. Having at least two external batteries that can be hot swapped and access to an outlet is one of the few ways that it can be done. This also means having to check the battery life on regular intervals. Be ready to spend the night half-awake if that is the case.
Another essential piece of equipment for a time lapse is a tripod. In fact, if you have a DSLR camera, chances are you also have a tripod. It is not impossible to shoot a time-lapse without one, but it is significantly more difficult without any benefit. Make sure that the legs of the tripod are stabilized and that wind will not make the camera rattle. Spikes instead of regular feet would be good if the ground is soft.
Check The Weather
The whole point of time-lapse landscape photography is to capture motion. Nature is overflowing with subtle movements. Always bear in mind that the focus of time lapse is to capture those movements, along with the landscape itself. It makes the time lapse look alive. If the main feature of your subject is the sky, then making sure that the weather will be appropriate for your goal is a priority.
Time lapses can look excellent in both cloudy or sunny weather, it just depends on what your goal is. Checking weather from multiple sources will give you a rough prediction on how your shots are going to look. The Canon 80D has multiple HDR modes that can capture excellent detail in both shadows and highlights. This means that cloudy days will look especially astonishing on this camera. Also, showing clouds’ shadows moving in a time lapse often results in gorgeous time lapses.
In case your goal is to shoot starlight, knowing the basics of astronomy can be of great benefit. Shooting the motion of a specific constellation in the background of a landscape requires forethought. Also, making sure that the sky is completely free of clouds will most likely make the time lapse significantly prettier.
Another potential oversight is that battery capacity is lower in cold weather. Packing as many external batteries as possible or using a secondary power source for longer time lapses is strongly recommended in such conditions.
Control Your Exposure
One of the biggest challenges of time-lapse photography is exposure management. If you have ever seen amateur time-lapse videos, you may have noticed flicker. This is a result of poor exposure management. If the exposure changes from frame to frame, it results in a horrible flicker and a ruined time lapse.
The Canon 80D’s aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, and shutter can be changed both on the camera and on your smartphone. Since it is best not to touch the camera during a time-lapse shooting to avoid shaking and ruining the shot, using a smartphone is recommended.
For beginners, it is recommended to avoid shooting day/night cycles as it requires the exposure to be changed constantly throughout the shooting session. Instead, beginners should run the camera in manual mode and use only one set of exposure settings. Changing the ISO, shutter speed, or aperture without the proper know-how or using automatic mode can cause horrible flickering.
Additionally, it is important to focus the camera. Canon 80D’s 45-point all cross-type AF system does a great job for beginners. The camera can detect subjects automatically and make the necessary changes. Nonetheless, it is still recommended to switch to manual mode after adjusting the camera’s focus onto where you want it to be. Make sure that the focus ring on your lens is locked so that wind cannot disrupt it.
Shoot In RAW
The default format on most cameras and phones is JPEG. For those who do not know, an image in the JPEG format has already been processed by the camera. RAW photos, on the other hand, have not been processed and contain significantly more data than a JPEG. This means that they take much more space, but it also means that they can be postprocessed by the photographer in image editing software.
Shooting time-lapse landscape photography in RAW format allows the photographer to later do editing without losing detail. Most professionals prefer to shoot in RAW, even if it requires them to carry multiple SD cards or delete pictures to free up space. Shooting in RAW allows the photographer to fix most mistakes that have been made when editing.
Canon 80D’s Time-Lapse Movie feature already does an excellent job without any post-processing needed. This does not mean that you should not shoot in RAW as you still may want to do some editing and hone the image to your preference.
To connect it with the previous tip, if the exposure of the time lapse has been mismanaged, having shot in RAW could still save the video. RAW format files on the Canon 80D are 14-bit, meaning that they record between 4,096 and 16,384 levels of brightness, compared to JPEG’s 256 levels.
This means that even dramatically overexposed or underexposed shots can be edited to perfection when shot on the Canon 80D. Also, the white balance is much easier to adjust on RAW files compared to JPEG.