Fuji time-lapses: Intro

Topics:

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FYI

This started off as one small post, but as I added everything that I wanted to share, it quickly became evident this would be too gigantic to be one post.

Intro

I recently started experimenting with using Interval Shooting to capture sunrise photos. That way, I could get multiple options and I don’t even have to be awake!

But I also started experimenting with creating time-lapses with those stills. Here are some things to consider if you are also starting out in shooting for time-lapses.

(To avoid overload your browsers and getting lost in a gigantic post, I’ve broken up the sections into individual posts. I hope this helps.)

(FYI I’m not getting into motion panning and expensive rigging. If fancy time-lapses are what you want, I’m sure you can search and find lots of products and techniques. Here, I will be talking basic shooting.)

Equipment

You will need a steady tripod and some type of intervalometer. Some, like my Fuji cameras, have built in intervalometers and some will need external intervalometers. Check your manual or search online for what your camera needs.

Outdoors and equipment

Since I’m doing lazy time-lapses from my kitchen, I can’t tell you much about shooting outdoors (you should be able to find info about this on Google), but I would imagine some issues to consider would be:

  • You don’t want to shoot on windy days or nights (or bad weather)
  • You will probably want a sturdier tripod than usual
  • Don’t forget weights on the tripod to keep it steady
  • Condensation in the camera may happen if temperatures change including going into the cold from a warm building or car
  • Effect of cold weather on battery life (or just being able to operate)
  • If left unattended: theft or animals
  • Etc, Etc.

Shooting for stills vs shooting for time-lapses

This was lesson #1 for me. I found that my stills, which look amazing by themselves, did not look so great in a time-lapse. With motion, the images needed more dynamic color and lighting. It might not be the case for everyone, but I found that subtle was not a friend to video.

I also found that dark, brooding details were *yawn* boring in video, so keep an open mind if you have a method set for stills. Shoot a few ways to see how they feel. I found that I was not shooting EV-2 for sunrises, but EV-1 and even EV0 were fine depending on what you were trying to capture.

16:9

Consider shooting in 16:9 proportions rather than in full resolution 3:2 or 4:3 proportions. This is the most pleasing for HDTV, laptops and many phones.

A million tweaks

If you have ever talked to a seasoned photographer, you will often discover the millions of tweaks and techniques they do to elevate a photo that is technically correct to something amazing. Most of the time you deal with one situation, but in a time-lapse, you are shooting several situations over a long period of time, so the number of tweaks seems to be exponential! FEAR NOT! Make mistakes, read what others have done and go be awesome!

But a word of caution. You may change a large number of settings — if you use the same camera for everyday shooting, DON’T FORGET to change the settings back to shoot normally. When I shot my Canon 7D, I could dedicate one of the Custom modes for something like this and snap back to normal quickly, but my Fuji’s do not have a way to do this due to the (wonderful) manual controls. Right now, I’ve got my X-E2 dedicated to this to keep me sane.

And for some situations, you may end up having everything on manual including but not limited to:

  • Focus
  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • White balance
  • ISO
  • (stabilization off)
  • (image size and quality, JPEG only)

Basic Fuji process

On my Fuji cameras, I:

  1. Set up my 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, and then shuts down between shots if the resting time between shots is big enough.

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.

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