Fuji Interval Shooting for stills

I often try to catch nice sunrises and sunsets through my kitchen window while I am getting ready for work or preparing dinner for the family. Many times I can see that I missed the peak of color which can happen in as sort as a few minutes. I don’t think to do Interval Shooting because it would require:

  • That I attend a tripod outside (which I can’t often do during the peak sunrise/sunset moment)
  • Or that I set up a tripod on our kitchen sink (which is below the best window view).

But then it occurred to me. If I do interval shooting:

  • I don’t need a tripod. I could use a self-standing monopod (which I have).
  • (And I don’t even have to be there. I could set it up the previous night and sleep in (see way below).)

20161222-064220-dscf6184-x100t_dce-filter21

Here is my first crack at Interval Shooting. It looked like it would be an interesting morning and out of 110 photos, this was one of the more interesting ones.

20161221-070116-dscf9912-x-e2_dce

Normally, I would have to keep peeking out the window to find the right composition of clouds, but with Interval Shooting, I have options to choose from.

And here is a time-lapse animation so you can see the other options:

20161221-065834-dscf9885-x-e2-6sec-interval-makeavi-15fps-intel-giphy

As you can see, it is fairly noisy (that’s not just the GIF reduction doing that). That’s because I still had this camera set to shoot low light action (candids) so the ISO shot up to 3200 and 6400. I also forgot to set the focus on manual so some frames were out-of-focus. These errors caused a flicker in the animation.

Next time/Lessons learned:

  • Shoot the slowest shutter speed you can get away with (to get the lowest ISO/noise)
    • To do this, I set the ISO and the aperture that I want
  • Shoot manual focus (to avoid autofocus differences/flicker and wasted camera energy).
    • Play with aperture and hyperfocal distance to get the look that you want.
    • I prefer f/5.6 and to manually focus so about 30ft to infinity are in focus.

Also:

  • Minimize unwanted lights – choose a day when you can go outside or turn off all lights inside.
  • Don’t forget to shoot on days with some clouds – cloudless sunrises/sunsets aren’t as interesting and cause banding (see below). Apps like Golden Hour can help.
  • Shoot with some padding – some peak moments in sunrises/sunsets can go as fast as 2-3 minutes, but it would be a good idea to plan to shoot more (15-20 minutes?) depending on what you are trying to capture to make sure your peak moment is captured. There are many websites and apps to help you determine the time of the moment you want to capture.
  • Make sure your battery is charged up. (See below for some Fuji X testing results.)

Good luck!

.

P.S.


Additional Fuji exposure settings for shooting sunrises and sunsets

I like Velvia color simulation on my Fuji with Color+2 and EV-2, but that is my taste. Some like changing the white balance from auto (which seems to go to the Cloudy wb setting and a more yellow-orange color) to Fine (which gives you deep blues). I don’t mess with shadow or highlight tone for sunrises and sunsets.

If I’m not shooting Intervals, I like shooting bracketed ±1/3 to get the right EV to get the most pleasing color at that moment.

There are tons of other things you can do if you search online. Good luck.


What is the difference between Interval Shooting and Time-lapse?

Interval Shooting is one name for a tool. Time-lapse is a product.

You shoot photos with Interval Shooting then take the result and either:

  • select photos you like for still photos
  • or convert the photos and compile them into a time-lapse animation or video

Why not use an app that creates gifs or time-lapses?

Yes, I might get easier gifs or videos, but:

  • I also don’t get high resolution stills (or RAW files)
  • and I also can’t get gorgeous straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from my Fuji cameras

Shooting Details

  • There were light, moving clouds this particular morning which added essential interest.
  • I set it for every 6 seconds and shot for about 11 minutes.
  • I set EV to -2, film simulation to Velvia and Color to +2 to get more deep color.
  • I shot just JPEG Fine to get a few good full size shots, but if I was just interested in the animation, I could have shot in lower resolution + Normal.
  • Lights in the kitchen and dining room were turned off, but not elsewhere which caused some glare, but I was just trying this out.
  • I only shot for 11 minutes (family was coming downstairs). I thought this would be long enough, but this sunrise was wonderfully slow (and I wish that I had shot longer).
  • Normally, I would use a program like AnimateGIF, but the resulting image was too rough in this case.
  • GifCreator.me didn’t ever give me a file to download, but related site GifMaker.me did spit out a large, speckled animation. (Don’t forget to reduce the size of the photos BEFORE uploading.)
  • To get the smoother result above:
    • I reduced the resolution of the JPEGs,
    • compiled them into an AVI with MakeAVI (15fps),
    • converted to MP4 with Handbrake (so Giphy.com could convert it) and then converted the MP4 to GIF at Giphy. Unfortunately, Giphy reduced the dimensions of the video.
    • There are other video editing programs that can compile your photo into an MP4 animation. Windows Movie Maker (recently discontinued) and Adobe Premiere come to mind.

Set it up the previous day

If you are for sure that the right conditions will be there in the morning (an app like Golden Hour can help), you may be able to set up the rig the previous day. I say day because if you set it up too late in the evening, it may be too dark for you to compose the picture.

On my Fuji cameras, you:

  1. Set up your focus, exposure, color, bracketing, jpeg/raw settings, etc.
  2. Set up the interval and number of exposures
  3. Set the delay time (it also shows the time it will start)
  4. And click ok

If the time not zero, it shuts itself off until it is time to start.

(Don’t forget that the estimated start time is based not on the active clock, but when you started setting the interval time. I can confirm this because the estimated time doesn’t change if you wait on the “start waiting time” screen for over a minute.)

And here is what Golden Hour looks like:

Don’t forget to click the 20161227-055359-golden-hour-sunrise-sunset-button-sml button to get the Sky and Light index for either sunrise or sunset.

I love the honest text “due to the missing cloud cover it will be a boring photo.”


Battery life

For a 999 picture test that I did 1 second apart (almost 17 minutes) just JPEGs (normal compression) manual focus, I drained a full Fuji OEM battery down to 60% left (40% used).

For an all day test that I did 1 minute apart just JPEGs (normal compression) on a partially charged battery, I was able to shoot for over 6 hours (over 300 pictures) before the X100T stopped operating (was at about 30% left). This was probably mostly due to it shutting down between pictures (which the Fuji’s wouldn’t do if the interval was short).

 

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