How to Create Time Lapse Videos of Nature Using Your DSLR

There has been a huge amount of interest generated around how to create time lapse videos using a standard DSLR. Many first time DSLR users have been drawn to this particular aspect of using their cameras. The first thing that we need to understand, before we pursue deeper into time lapse videos and on how to create time lapse videos of nature, is what is time lapse video.

Time lapse video is a series of still photos, taken at a fixed interval of time between them, stitched together in a software and converted into a video file to be played back at either 24 frames, 25 frames or 30 frames per second. As we shall see later it gives the illusion of a world that is moving at a slightly higher pace than normal. Photographers have created time lapse videos of a night sky, of a blooming flower, sun rise, sun set, a busy street so on and so forth. There is literally no dearth of subjects once you get a hang of how to manage the camera settings and how to stitch the pictures together in your computer.

In this tutorial we shall look at how to setup your camera in order to start shooting pictures for your time lapse videos of nature. In order to shoot time lapse videos the three most important tools you would need are your DSLR camera, a sturdy tripod and an intervalometers.

What is an intervalometers? As discussed above, time lapse videos need a sequence of images that are to be stitched together. These videos must be shot at an equal time gap. There are two ways you can do that. Either stand with your DSLR, finger on shutter release and an egg timer on the other hand to keep clicking at regular intervals (I know it sounds pretty boring!) or you can use  an intervalometer. It basically shoots the pictures by pressing the shutter release button after the desired time gap. You can set the time gap and enjoy the beauty of nature while it keeps clicking. Some cameras come with a built-in intervalometer. Check it before you decide to buy an external one for yourself.

 

 

Once you have all these tools, you’re pretty much good to go. Setup your camera at your choicest location, mounted on a tripod and set the exposure. By setting the exposure I mean select the shutter speed and the aperture. You will have to set your camera to manual mode otherwise the camera will try to compensate for the changing light in between the shots which may not look nice in the video. Also, set up the focus point manually and lock it so that the camera does not try to relock focus on different subjects in different frames.

The location that you choose can be any where basically, you can use the balcony outside your room overlooking a street, you can take your DSLR to the woods, have it placed near a river with lots of traffic in the water so on and so forth. Just remember that you’re shooting pictures to create time lapse videos of nature and thus it makes sense to have a bit of nature in it!

Ensure that the tripod is on firm ground and that it is not wobbling. It can not only ruin the pictures but you also run the risk of damaging your camera in case the tripod flips over.

Setting up the intervalometer is also important as you will need to have enough pictures, all taken at a right time interval for your time lapse videos of nature to be perfect. For the true cinematic effect you will need 24 frames per second (to play back at 24p). If the video is to last 20 seconds and the pictures need to be taken at a time gap of 5 seconds, then you will need 2400 pictures. If you’re shooting RAW use a lower resolution image else your camera’s memory will run out. It is better if you can shoot and transfer the pictures via an eye-fi card or have wireless features on your camera.

 

Once the images are shot and transferred on to your computer, you will need a video creation / image editing software that has an option to create time lapse to stitch everything together and create the video. For best results add a dash of light instrumental music to the video and you’re ready to share your brilliant time lapse videos of nature with the world.


About Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 3 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits. He routinely punctuates his daily schedule by hitting the road.

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