We’ve all seen spectacular time-lapses on videos and social media. They’re perfect to capture the captivating beauty of a landscape or fascinating details of changes in objects or the environment.
Simply put, a time-lapse is a video with images taken at longer intervals, which makes the sequence appear to move faster. This technique is perfect to show slow changes quickly. Common examples include sunsets, and sunrises, night skies, street scenes, and beaches. However, this technique adds dynamism and novelty to most subjects, and you can also combine it with filters or motion to make them even more spectacular.
Making your own time-lapse video is easier than you think, and with just a little planning you’ll get spectacular results. Whether you’re a traveler looking to document your journey on video, social media, or a blog, a photographer keen to expand your skills and portfolio, or a photography enthusiast curious about getting the most out of your camera, time-lapses are an important skill to learn.
You don’t even need special equipment. Although a tripod comes in handy, many photographers get fantastic results by putting their camera on any steady, flat surface.
Even some high-end phone camera applications now include a time-lapse setting, but if you’re looking for more professional results, your Nikon D610 comes with features that will make it easier to capture eye-catching time-lapses in high resolution.
These five time-lapse photography tips will help you create dynamic, astounding images for your social media, YouTube channel, blog, or portfolio.
Time lapse Vs Interval: Which One To Use?
Your Nikon D610 has two different settings to generate time-lapse photography: time-lapse and interval. These two modes allow you to capture photos at different intervals, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable. What’s the difference?
With the interval timer shooter, you can set up the time and number of intervals to take a series of shots over minutes or hours. It also allows you to capture very high-resolution images for time-lapses with 4K resolution. Imagine capturing an alluring night sky or a riveting video from a car or train at a maximum resolution for spectacular results.
The time-lapse function works a little differently: it takes a single photo at a pre-defined interval. This setting works perfectly for longer intervals of several hours, or even days, or if you’re creating a stop motion animation.
For example, with an interval timer, you can set up your camera to take 5 shots every 15 minutes for five intervals. Instead, with time-lapse, it will take only one photo every 15 minutes for the same intervals.
While setting up your intervals, your camera will calculate how many photos it’ll take, allowing you to ensure that there is enough space in your memory card. Do keep this in mind—the camera will not save any photos it takes after the memory has run out of space.
You can access both the time-lapse and interval settings on your camera’s shooting menu.
Configure The Intervals To Match The Scene
When you’re setting up your first time-lapse it’s tricky to figure out how long your intervals should be. Should you set up short intervals of a couple of seconds, or longer ones of a sequence or a single shot every several minutes?
In truth, it will depend on the movement and speed you want for your final image. In turn, the speed is determined by your subject. As a rule of thumb, the faster you want the image to move, the shorter the intervals should be.
Let’s say you’re making a traffic time-lapse in a moving car. You’ll want to set up your Nikon D610 to shoot at short intervals of one or two seconds. More spaced-out intervals will make your final image look choppy, something you’d like to avoid—unless you’re keen to experiment with that effect, of course.
Other examples of fast-moving scenes that usually require quick intervals are sports events, clouds, rivers, and crowded street scenes.
On the other hand, slow-moving sequences require slower intervals. For example, a caterpillar turning into a butterfly may only require a few shots per day over several days.
Another important setting you need to take into account in relation to your frame intervals is the exposure time of each photo. In simple terms, the longer the exposure time, the more motion blur the frame may have. When you’re shooting a night sky on a long exposure, you’ll see the stars as bright lines in the sky caused by motion blur.
Eliminate Flickering By Shooting In Manual Mode
One common issue that new photographers experience when experimenting with time-lapses for the first time is flickering images. It is usually caused by sudden changes in light and exposure. For example, when you’re shooting a cloud time-lapse and a cloud suddenly covers the sun, darkening your scene for a few seconds.
One way to avoid rapid changes in exposure affecting your image is by shooting in manual mode. This keeps crucial settings like your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed consistent during the entire sequence. These settings control your camera’s sensitivity to light, how big the shutter opens when the camera shoots, and how fast it opens and closes. Combined, they determine how your final image looks.
As long as the lightning conditions don’t change too drastically, keeping your settings consistent will keep your image smooth.
If you’re trying to shoot a sunrise or sunset video, or other significant changes in light and exposure, you’ll need to take a different approach. While still shooting in manual mode, to capture the different lightning conditions adequately, you’ll need to change the settings manually as the light changes.
Shooting scenes with substantial changes in exposure will take more planning and will require you to be more involved in the shooting. You’ll need to observe how the light changes and adapt your camera settings accordingly.
If you’re a new photographer, it’s a good idea to start shooting your time-lapses in stable ambient light conditions to get more practice and become familiar with your Nikon D610.
Stabilize The Image By Deactivating Automatic White Balance
Another thing you can do to avoid flickering is to turn off automatic white balance on your Nikon D610 settings.
What does white balance do? To put it simply, it helps remove color casts to make sure the colors in your image are rendered properly. For example, a photo taken indoors under yellow light will give the people in the image a yellowish tint that doesn’t reflect how they look in real life.
If automatic white balance is enabled during your time-lapse, changes in lightning and exposure may affect how the camera sees white, giving each frame a different tone that will give the final result an uneven, flickering look.
You can change the white balance mode by pressing the WB button on your camera’s control panel. Alternatively, you can look up the White Balance option in your camera’s shooting menu as well.
You’ll want to avoid auto-white balance changing the tones in your frames. While it can be corrected in post, you can save yourself the time and effort by taking a few seconds to change your camera settings before shooting.
If you’re unsure which white balance option to choose for your shot, ask yourself which light conditions are you shooting under and if they’re going to change during the shooting.
Your camera includes several white balance modes depending on the light conditions—from incandescent or fluorescent lights, or daylight, direct sunlight, cloudy, or shade, just to name a few. It’s always a good idea to test before setting up the shooting.
Another setting you’ll want to remain consistent in every frame is focus. If there is some movement or light changes in your scene, autofocus may create inconsistent blurs that will also cause flickering in your image.
Autofocus is a useful feature, but it has its limitations. If your image has too much or not enough contrast, a lot of small details or intricate geometric patterns, the camera might not focus properly
In some cases, the focus lock feature can help. For example, if your subject is off center in your composition, it may be out of focus in the photo. Focus lock lets you focus on the subject and then recompose the photo to move it out of the center of the frame.
To do this on your Nikon D610, make sure the subject is on the focus point and then press the shutter button half-way. Keep pressing the shutter while you also press the AE-L/AF-L button. Maintain both buttons pressed as you recompose the shot and press the shutter button all the way to shoot the photo.
You can use focus lock to set up the proper focus for your sequence, and then switch to manual focus to keep the focus settings consistent. To use manual focus, change the selector on the base of your lens from A (automatic) to M (manual).