To most people, photography is about capturing one moment in time and immortalising it in a photograph. A single picture taken at an opportune moment can tell you a whole story, which is why people often say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Yet, there is another way that you can tell a story through photography, and that’s through what’s called time-lapse photography.
Time-lapse photography is pretty straightforward. It’s a technique where the photographer takes a continual series of photos at regular intervals. Imagine this: you mount your Canon Rebel T6 on a tripod, pointed at a flower. Manually or with the help of an intervalometer, you take a snapshot at a predetermined interval as the flower gradually blooms. By the end of the process, you have a series of photos that track different stages of that blooming flower! Using computer software, you can then stitch those photos together to make a brief video that compresses all those many intervals into just a few seconds of intriguing footage.
As you can tell, time-lapse photography requires you to devote a lot of time and focus on the process. Still, you’ll need more than that if you want to create the same impressive results as other experienced time-lapse photographers.
To speed up your mastery of time-lapse photography, what you’ll need are a few tried and tested tips specific to this technique. And that’s precisely what this article is here to offer you.
Here are five tips for excellent time-lapse photography with your Canon Rebel T6.
Keep Your Batteries Charged Up
Keeping your batteries fully-charged might seem like an obvious, rookie tip. Still, many photographers overestimate the capacities of their batteries when experimenting with time-lapse photography. It’s only after their first significant disappointment, i.e. when their cameras die halfway through, that they learn their lesson.
You don’t have to learn the lesson the hard way. Firstly, you must charge your battery up to full before you start taking your time-lapse shots. Next, do your math. The standard battery life of the Canon Rebel T6 is approximately one hour and twenty-five minutes of continuous shooting. So, if you plan on using it for longer than that, you may need to bring along a backup battery. Remember: when it comes to the Canon Rebel T6, you can’t shoot while the camera is charging. So if you thought that you could get your time-lapse while you keep a charging cable plugged in, think again! You’re going to ruin your time-lapse photoshoot if you have to stop halfway through.
Other than starting with a fully-charged battery, you could also take a few steps to maximise your battery life. Firstly, you could disable any camera feature that you’re not actively using, such as the connectivity features, perhaps. Every bit of battery life counts, so browse through the menu carefully and see what you can turn off during shooting.
Alternatively, you could just invest in better batteries. A quick Google search or some browsing on your favourite online shopping store will show you all the third-party batteries available for your T6 camera.
Shoot In The T6’s Manual Mode
When you’re doing time-lapse photography with the Canon Rebel T6, you have to be wary of the one thing that could ruin your entire shoot: flickers. The whole point of time-lapse photography is to get a beautiful series of sequential photographs. So, a flicker would disrupt the sequence as that whole.
One thing that causes that flicker is the camera’s automatic shoot mode. When the camera is in auto mode, it’ll adjust all of its settings according to whatever is going on at that particular interval. That’s not good for consistency. Thankfully, the fix is pretty simple: switch over to the T6’s Manual Mode when doing time-lapse photography.
When in Manual Mode, settings like the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed will remain the same throughout the entire process. The only way those settings will change is if you adjust them manually.
Still, using Manual Mode isn’t just excellent for preventing flickers. It’s also great if you plan on doing a time-lapse to capture the transition between night and day. You see, as the lighting conditions change in the environment you’re photographing, you’ll need to adjust your camera settings accordingly. With time-lapse photography, you’ll need to adjust those settings between each interval, to ensure that your shots are seamless from start to finish.
Time-lapse photography is already challenging on its own. To do it during a day-night transition requires a lot of practice and experience.
Another reason why the Canon Rebel T6 is a good fit for time-lapse photography is that it allows for shooting in RAW format. Yes, RAW format photographs take up a lot more space on your camera’s memory card. Many people will use that as justification to shoot in other formats instead, like JPEG. The issue with these formats is that it allows the camera to process them for you. When you keep things in RAW format, those photos remain unprocessed, allowing you more flexibility to edit them later on. The tradeoff? As mentioned before, RAW files take up more space.
But the extra space is worth it. When you shoot in RAW format, not only do you get higher levels of quality compared to other formats. You also capture your images at more excellent brightness, and you’re also able to correct any problems with over- or under-exposure in your shots. As the name suggests, what you’re capturing is the RAW and untouched image, entirely unaltered by the camera. With this format, the only limit would be your creativity.
With that in mind, think of this as the second part to this tip: get bigger storage space. The good news is that you have plenty of storage capacity options when it comes to the T6. The camera supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards with capacities all the way up to 2TB. Of course, you don’t need to buy more storage space than you need, so a little bit of experimentation will help you estimate what you’ll need to have.
By now, it’s evident that time-lapse photography will require a lot of dedication on your part. Not only will you have to exercise a higher level of patience, but you’ll also need to be very diligent in your efforts to capture the pictures precisely as you need them to be. Still, you can’t just leave your camera there for hours upon hours to take the snapshots. For one, if anything goes wrong halfway through, you need to be there to make the necessary adjustments. Plus, leaving your Canon Rebel T6 out in the open increases the risk that someone might steal it.
So, how can you keep your camera company for extended periods? You do it by getting yourself really comfortable.
Think of it as a camping trip (it might actually have to be a camping trip, depending on where you’re taking your time-lapse photos). The first thing you’ll need to do is pack enough food and water to consume throughout the photoshoot. That will ensure you won’t have to leave just to keep yourself hydrated and fed.
Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that you dress for whatever climate you’re in during your photoshoot. That’s especially true if you’re doing your time-lapse photography outdoors during the winter or rainy seasons. Be sure to wear breathable materials that’ll help you stay comfortable the entire time.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to bring along some reading materials as well. A book or a magazine would be the perfect companion for you while you oversee your camera throughout this process.
Keep A Safe Distance
Even though you’ll be ‘babysitting’ your Canon Rebel T6 as it takes its time-lapse photos, you need to make sure that you keep a safe distance away from it. The fear here is that you may accidentally bump into your camera, knocking it over. Sure, you could put it back up, but you’ll find it challenging to compose your shot in the same way as before. While that might seem like a small difference to you, it’ll make a significant and noticeable change in your final time-lapse video.
So, once you’ve set your camera to do its job, make sure that there’s a safe distance between it and wherever you might be relaxing. Be sure that there is no reason to walk past the camera either, like on your way to a public bathroom or something similar. For the perfect time-lapse photos, it’s more than worth giving the camera a wide berth as you walk past it.
Still, this tip isn’t just about you bumping into the camera. You’ll also need to ensure that the wind doesn’t blow it over, or that any animals or falling debris might do the same. If you want to be extra careful in this scenario, you could put a bit of effort into securing your tripod to the ground. It may seem excessive to some, but there’s no harm in being extra-cautious for the sake of capturing the perfect time-lapse photos.