Just finished doing a timelapse of the most recent falling snow around here. These are the steps I used when taking pictures of the falling snow for a timelapse:
- Make sure the picture review time option is set to "None". Otherwise the camera will be wasting battery displaying the picture every time it takes a photo.
- For a day into night and back to day timelapse, and because I could not be babysitting the camera all the time, I decided to set the camera to Aperture Priority mode with a fixed ISO. But before, I also tested how the daylight settings chosen by the camera for shutter speed would be when the night came. E.g., during the day the shutter speed was 1/125, and in a dark environment it would go down to 10s. All good. I just wanted to make sure the camera would not underexpose because it could not go longer than 30s if needed, which was not the case here. I also set the white balance to Daylight.
- Ok, camera now is on the tripod and shooting. I isolated the area to make sure nobody would bump into the camera. And them I would once in a while check how the images were coming up ,and then I would check also for the camera battery and memory card status;
- For a 1 minute long timelapse covering a 24 hour period, this translates into 1 picture per minute (at 24 fps). Most of the time that was the interval. But when the kids headed outside I changed the interval down to 20s to grab more of the kids playing. During the night there was not much going on (kinda of disappointing), so I kep the 1 minute interval but then when editing the video I sped up this part by 4X;
- When it comes time to change the battery and memory cards, do so very carefully so as not to disturb the camera's position.
- After I replaced the 1st card, I imported the pictures into Lightroom and started the process of "balancing" them. By that I mean making sure that all pictures are color balanced and that there are no drastic fluctuations in exposure between frames. Remember, I am shooting in Aperture priority and the outside brightness also has changed drastically (day into night and bright car headlights entering the frame);
- 1st, I fixed the white balance in the images. Some of them I had to do one by one, specially when the Sun was setting. Even on a 1 minute interval, it is very interesting to see how drastic the white balance settings change between frames. And I wanted to adjust the white balance because this is a snow scene, so I wanted consistence in the "whiteness" of the image. But for the most part, specially when it was still daylight and when it got dark the white balance differences were minimal and I could fix the white balance in one image and sync the change with others;
- For the white balance, make sure to sample from an area that is common in all images and sees the same light source on them. Shoot in RAW of course. Start adjusting the white balance in order for consistency;
- 2nd, I then started to look for drastic exposure fluctuations. In this case, these were caused by car headlights entering the frame and tricking the camera to use a shorter exposure. I adjusted the exposure back to what would have been had the car not entered the frame. I just compared it to the previous image;
- 3rd, since this is a day into night timelapse but I was shooting in Aperture priority, the brightness level between a picture taken at day time and one at night time would be very similar. So I had to adjust the exposure in the images as the day falls into night, to give a real sense of night falling. So I gradually updated groups of images by -1/3 stop at a time. E.g.: the daylight exposure was at 1/125. Pictures that were taken at the end of the evening, were between 1/80 down to 1/40. So for those I updated the exposure by -1/3 stops. The ones between 1/40 and 1/25, were updated by -2/3 stops. The ones between 1/20 to 1/4 were updated by -1 stop. 1/4 and 4s by -1.3 stops, and -1.6 stops if longer than 4s. For the frames between the transition points, I set an exposure between these transition points. E.g.: when the exposure goes to -1/3 to -2/3, the frame in between had the exposure set to -1/2;
- After editing all the pictures (around 2,000 of them), I imported them into Final Cut Pro X. For a 1080p video format, select all the images and scale them to 120%. This is so we don't get black bars around on the sides.
Different things change at the same time on a timelapse. Concentrate your eyes on an area each time you replay it to fully appreciate.