Whether you are fascinated by the intricate processes of the natural world, or you are looking for a new medium to express your inner creativity, time-lapse photography could be for you. Time-lapse photography can be used to speed up the process of a building’s construction, the changing colors of a tree’s leaves in autumn, or the growth of a seedling as it bursts through the soil’s surface. It is a beautiful and diverse cinematography technique that allows photographers to test the limits of their creativity.
Time-lapse photography is used to capture changes and movements that the human eye cannot usually see. Image stills that are taken by the photographer at regular intervals are played back at speed during post-processing. Through time-lapses, photographers can manipulate time and give the impression of fast movement. Processes that would normally last for hours or even days are sped up and played back over a few minutes or seconds.
You do not need to own an extensive array of expensive camera gear to create beautiful time-lapses. To capture time-lapses on your Sony a6400, all you will need to begin is a sturdy tripod. The Sony a6400 is a great option for shooting time-lapses because of its integrated interval shooting or time-lapse feature. That the time-lapse feature is integrated, means there is no need to rely on additional equipment such as an intervalometer when capturing sequences of shots.
Keep reading for tips on setting up a time-lapse shooting on the Sony a6400.
Select Manual Mode
When you are shooting time-lapses, it is important to maintain as much control as possible over the quality and look of the images that you are shooting. Take some time to identify the correct settings on your Sony a6400 to achieve the highest quality images. If you are a beginner photographer, it may be tempting to choose to shoot in auto-mode, but it is worth learning how to manually set up your camera for shooting.
Choosing manual mode will give you control over the exposure, color balance, and aperture of your images. Once you have learned how to effectively use manual mode, you will have the choice of both. Manual control gives you complete control over the look of your images. If you chose to allow the camera to select the settings, you would lose control over the exposure, and ultimately the look, and style of your time-lapse.
Learning how to use manual mode on your Sony a6400 involves gaining an understanding of the exposure triangle. The triangle balances the ISO, shutter speed and aperture of each photo. First, select Manual Mode on your Sony a6400’s mode menu. Look through the camera’s viewfinder, and while holding the capture button, check the light meter reading to see whether your photo is over or underexposed.
In most cases, it is recommended to keep your ISO as low as possible, however, if you are shooting in low lighting conditions a higher ISO will be necessary. Second, choose your shutter speed, a slower shutter speed will capture motion blur in fast movement. Finally, choose your aperture, a lower aperture will result in greater depth of field (or blurry background).
Turn Off Auto-Focus
While auto-focus seems like the easier option, manually focusing your camera is recommended for setting up a time-lapse. Allowing your camera to auto-focus during a time-lapse means that it would refocus on a different subject after each photo is taken, resulting in an inconsistent final time-lapse video. To focus your Sony a6400, twist the focus ring on your lens until your subject is clearly in focus.
Shooting time-lapses in different settings and lighting conditions will present different issues. If you are struggling to focus your scene, allow your camera to focus in auto-focus mode. Once your camera has successfully focused, turn off auto-focus for the duration of your time-lapse shoot. This tip is especially helpful in low-lighting conditions where focusing is especially difficult. If you are shooting scenery, such as a sun-setting over the sea, try to focus on your camera at the infinity point, in this example, this will be the line where the sky meets the sea.
Taking extra time to focus your time-lapse scene in manual focus will give you more control and ensure that all of your images are in focus. Look through the viewfinder to ensure the image is correctly focused before you begin shooting your stills.
When you are shooting a time-lapse, it is important to consider the speed of movement in your image to correctly choose your time-lapse interval speed. Quicker movements such as moving cars or players in a sports game will require shorter intervals between each still image, of between 1 to 3 seconds. Too much space between images of fast-moving objects would result in skipping or jumpy images. Slower-moving scenes such as a growing or blooming flower can be taken with longer intervals of up to thirty seconds without seeming jumpy.
To configure the correct interval settings on your Sony a6400, select “Camera Settings 1” in your camera’s menu; then choose “Shoot Mode/Drive 1;” then “Interval Shoot Function.” After selecting “Interval Shooting Function” you can choose your desired interval settings. Turn “Interval Shooting” on; then set the “Shooting Start Time” which determines the time from when you press the shutter button to when the camera begins to shoot. Set the “Shooting Interval” according to how fast or slow-paced the movement in your scene is. If the movement is slow, select ten-second intervals or more. If the movement is fast, select an interval of between one to three seconds so your sequence does not appear jumpy. Then select the number of shots that you require for your time-lapse, this will depend on the length of time-lapse you require.
Shooting time-lapses require extensive prior planning and preparation. It is important to take the time to properly plan your shoot so that you achieve a high-quality time-lapse.
If you have decided to shoot a sequence of a sunrise or sunset, ensure that your Sony a6400 batteries are charged either the night or morning before so that you can arrive in time. The Sony a6400 should last for up to 410 shots, so it may be necessary to pack an extra battery for your shoot. It is also important to check the time as well as the orientation of the rising or setting sun. It is also a good idea to consider and plan for other elements in your scene such as sea tides or the moon. Using an app to plan your shots can help you to predict weather patterns and forecasts for your location. Shooting a specific moment or process such as this requires careful planning. If you fail to accurately plan, you may arrive late at your shoot location and miss the perfectly beautiful moment that you hoped to capture.
Shooting time-lapses is a major time commitment and depending on the scene or process that you are shooting, you may have to set up your camera and leave it to shoot for hours. Waiting for your camera to capture hundreds of individual images takes a lot of time. Make sure that you are ready to wait for your camera to finish shooting by packing enough food, and water, as well as appropriate clothing, depending on the weather conditions.
Choose Your Location
Shooting time-lapse photography takes a lot of time, so choose a good location before you decide to shoot. Time-lapses often take hours to capture, so it is a good idea to spend some time beforehand to explore your chosen area and find the perfect location for your time-lapse so that you are making the most of your time.
Often, we arrive at a shoot location and set up the camera too quickly without putting enough thought into the scene’s framing and composition. Explore the entire location while imagining the shot. Look at the scene and try to find the best frame for your image. It can be helpful to imagine that you are just taking one photo.
While the weather does not always play along, use shadow and weather movement to your advantage when shooting. Download a weather app on your phone to help you predict the weather for the day of your time-lapse shoot. Despite that the weather will not always co-operate, use it to make a beautiful shot. If the sun has been hidden behind the clouds, show the movement of the clouds and the shadows that they are casting. Set the exposure on your Sony a6400 to showcase the shadows in your image.
It is important to be flexible when shooting any scene over a period of time. Just because things don’t go exactly to plan, it doesn’t mean that you cannot end up with a beautiful time-lapse. An understanding of your Sony a6400 exposure settings will help you adapt to a location’s changing weather and light conditions.