A time-lapse is a modern-day photography technique that combines different image frames to create a mesmerizing collage. It could be of the sunset, beaches, the milky way galaxy, growing plants, and many more. You can stitch together time-lapse videos according to your imagination to create a three-dimensional effect using two-dimensional photographs.
So, what exactly, is a time-lapse? It’s essentially a video that is shot by combining single frames of images or videos taken at a regular time interval of one frame per minute or per second. All these frames are then combined afterward to create a faster motion effect in the resultant video.
You must be wondering about the main components required to create time-lapse videos. All you need is your unlimited creativity and a good DSLR. Luckily, your wish for a start-of-the-art DSLR has been granted in the form of the Nikon D5100.
The Nikon D5100 comes with advanced-level time-lapse photography settings that allow you to select the interval rate starting from one frame per second and going all the way to one frame per 10 minutes. Another advantage of using the Nikon D5100 is its capability to shoot frames manually as well, meaning that you don’t need to worry about setting the interval.
The image quality of the D5100 ensures that you can create a full HD time-lapse video.
The following five tips will guide you to make the best possible use of the Nikon D5100 to capture stunning time-lapse videos.
Charge Your Batteries
It’s your first and foremost duty as a time-lapse photographer to ensure that the primary and backup batteries are charged fully. You surely don’t want to risk running out the battery right in the middle of a time-lapse video.
Time is the biggest ally, as well as the enemy for a time-lapse video. Imagine sitting at a perfect remote location with the sole intention to capture the movement of the milky way galaxy all night till dawn, and you find that you are out of battery.
This is a very inconvenient situation, one that could have been averted by fully charging all the batteries. Carrying a secondary battery is crucial for anyone that wants to pursue time-lapse photography at an advanced level.
The Nikon D5100 comes with a powerful rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. Although the battery supports the capture of hundreds of images on a full charge, time-lapse photography causes an additional drain on the battery life.
So, to be on the safer side, always charge your primary and secondary batteries completely before shooting a time-lapse video. Carry multiple backup batteries as well as a wireless battery charger.
Use Manual Mode
If you want to create the perfect time-lapse video in high definition resolution, you should operate the Nikon D5100 in manual mode. The manual mode gives you full freedom to set the aperture, ISO, and white balance according to what you think will provide the best results.
The first trick is to select the most optimal exposure value, which is then set for the rest of the photographs that are captured every minute for the next couple of hours. You can achieve a fixed exposure rate by using manual mode only.
Keen an eye on the time interval when using full manual mode. The reason is that the frame rate, shutter speed, and time required to shoot the images changes as the time interval changes. It’s better to keep the time interval static while using the manual mode to achieve better photographs and create a seamless time-lapse.
A better approach is to adjust the bracketing settings before shooting the photographs so that the camera only captures the number of shots that you require. However, if flash, exposure, or ADL bracketing is active, then it may result in a larger number of unnecessary photographs overriding the initial interval timer command.
The same rule applies to the white balance bracketing. The camera processes a single shot at one interval and then generates multiple copies specified in the bracketing program.
There is a warning sign on the monitor of the Nikon D5100, which triggers only when the shooting and bracketing settings are not in sync with the time interval. Even if you are operating in manual mode, the Nikon D5100 guides you through selecting the optimal shooting settings to capture the best-quality photographs and create an impeccable time-lapse.
Always Pick RAW Format
As discussed earlier, a time-lapse video is created by combining still photographs. You can’t process photographs in JPEG format. Ideally, you should be capturing images in RAW format. It provides you with a lot of flexibility in post-processing, giving you the ability to use different software.
There are two types of compression for RAW images. One is the lossless compression, which reduces the file size by 20 – 40 % without affecting the image quality using a reversible algorithm. The other is a compressed type, which reduces the file size by 35-55 % with a slightly noticeable effect on image quality.
You can also select the bit depth of the RAW files either as 12bit or 14bit. The only difference is the increased color data recording in 14bit.
Depending upon the scene, you can select the image size as either small, large, or medium. You can also opt for an image area as DX (24 x 16) or 1.3 (18 x 12). The image area of 1.3 allows you to create a telephoto effect without using a dedicated lens for this purpose.
All the above features of the Nikon D5100 empower you to capture premium quality high-resolution RAW format photographs in different conditions. The accurate post-processing and combining of RAW files allow you to create a smooth transition in all your time-lapse projects.
No Moving The Camera
The main idea of a time-lapse video is to replicate the effect of motion by capturing continuous shots at one angle with one single selected frame. If you move your camera or tilt it, the time-lapse video will not show a smooth transition.
Instead, it will be a jittery video with different sized frames and angles. It’s a good idea to take all the time you need to set the camera. This is beacuse once you start shooting, you can’t make any adjustments on the go without starting a new time-lapse.
The good news about the Nikon D5100 is that you can view the frame in the live view mode after setting the focus mode to automatic AF-S. However, you need to set the mode dial to Manual (M) to set the aperture and ISO settings manually.
An alternative is to preset the exposure and focus settings while setting the camera. Maintaining consistency is a pre-requisite for a time-lapse, so the image quality, background light, and other shooting settings shouldn’t change from one shot to another.
A time-lapse video is only effective if it displays an ultra-smooth transition with a special focus on all the details, background color, and photograph exposure. You can also use a sturdy tripod stand to ensure zero camera movement or shake while shooting the selected frame.
Take Lots Of Shots
The most interesting fact about a time-lapse is that it provides the impression of a complete process that otherwise appears to be a still or a stagnant scene to the naked eye. It can be a sunset at a beach, the blossoming of a flower, the melting of the icecap, or the lifecycle of a butterfly. These are all examples of natural processes, which can be shrunken to a time-lapse video of one minute or less with the Nikon D5100.
So, what’s the crux? You need to capture lots of shots for hours and days to create one spectacular time-lapse. The more photographs you capture, the smoother the resulting time-lapse. That doesn’t necessarily mean you start shooting frames every second because that’ll be a total waste of time, memory space, and battery. You should be mindful of the total number of shots you take according to the scene you want to capture and the duration of the time-lapse.
If you decide to capture a 24-hour time-lapse video of the snow peaks, you can take full advantage of the interval shooting mode. This mode allows you to select the time interval of your choice, and then you can sit back and relax while the Nikon D5100 dutifully captures all the photos. You can use an aperture timer to set the time-lapse settings to 15-second intervals to capture 1403 pictures in one session.
The total number of frames that you capture in one second can give you an idea of the total duration of the time-lapse. You can make a 30-second video by capturing one image per second for 15 minutes, one image per 5 seconds for 45 minutes, or one image per minute for 900 minutes.
If you are looking for a reliable DSLR, which can capture long, high-quality time-lapse videos for not just hours but days, then go for the brilliant Nikon D5100.