Photography News | Issue 35 | absolutephoto.com
Photo school Camera class Everyone has to start somewhere, even pros, so every issue we look at the core skills every beginner needs. This month, how to use an interval timer for time-lapse photography, and how to create time-lapse pics in Photoshop… In association with
Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton
How to shoot time-lapse sequences with an intervalometer
In its most basic form, a photographic interval timer (or intervalometer) is a device or function that automatically triggers exposures over a set period. The number of images and the time between them can both be decided by you, depending on the subject or scene. So, why would youwant to do this?Well, there are many creative techniques in photography for which using an interval timer is vital; pretty much any situation that requires you to shoot the same view for an extended period, for instance, with time-lapse photography. Time-lapse photography covers many types of image, but differs from long-exposure photography in that it requires multiple frames to be captured, rather than one extended shot. Depending on the subject and style of your time-lapse, you could shoot a lot of pictures during a short period, for instance when dealing with a fast-moving subject travelling through the frame; or you might shoot over a much longer time, like many hours, as when shooting star trails. You can also use an intervalometer to shoot dimly lit subjects, like stars or nebulae, and stack the multiple exposures recorded in specialist software like StarStaX
without showing excessive digital noise. Then there’s video, where you turn the separate frames into a short time-lapse movie. So, loads you can try! ManyDSLRsnowhaveintervalometersbuiltintotheir menu settings, and this includes most Nikon and Pentax DSLRs, as well as the Canon EOS 7D II and 5DS/5DS/R. If your camera doesn’t have one, they’re also commonly found as part of remote releases or wireless triggers. If you’re looking for a separate intervalometer remote you’re spoilt for choice; there are options like the corded Canon TC-80N3 Remote Controller (£120), and wireless versions, such as Hähnel’s Giga T Pro II Remote Control (£75) among others. In-camera, the intervalometer functionswill be found in the shooting menu, either as a standalone sub-menu, or as part of the drive functions where you’ll also find things like the self-timer. Before shooting also consider the number of shots you’ll need and whether there’s enough space on your memory card. The basic functions of using an intervalometer remain the same, and are
Step 1: Tripod and focus Alignment is usually vital for time- lapse shots, so first you’ll need to secure the camera’s position on a tripod (or other mount). See that the tripod has a solid footing and won’t be disturbed throughout the shooting sequence, which could last several hours. Finally, compose the photo, making sure that you can predict any movement of the subject through the frame, lock the focus and switch to manual focus so the camera doesn’t need to refocus between shots.
Step 2: Set up the exposure. Before setting the timer, you need to decide on the exposure mode and settings. For the greatest consistency, it’s best to use manual mode (M) for time-lapse sequences, but this is more convenient for low-light images than it is for rapidly changing lighting conditions where aperture-priority (A or Av) can be more useful. The white- balance should also be set manually, to whatever conditions you’re in so that you avoid shifts in colour.
outlined in the step-by-step guide on the right. Next month: More essential camera skills
Step 3: Set the interval timer Either from the camera’s main shooting menu or using an external intervalometer, you can now set the timing between frames and ultimately the overall number of pictures you want to take. This will of course depend on the shutter speed you’re using (the timing can’t be shorter than the length of each exposure). Next, dial in the total number of frames that you want to shoot, giving the grand total of shots required and the total length of the operation. Now trigger the shutter and the interval timer will take over.
Intervalometer and time-lapse effects Once you get to grips with shooting using an intervalometer there are lots of exciting images you can create; for instance showing movement through the frame or multiplying long-exposure effects like moving clouds and traffic.
Softwareskills Blending time-lapse images inPhotoshop While many cameras now include
composite modes that can combine the sequence of photos you’ve taken into a finished image, it’s most common to do it in image-editing software like Photoshop. Using layers, masks and blendingmodes, the separate images can be merged in several different ways depending on the subject or the look of the image that you want. However, it all begins by adding each photo into the same document as separate layers ready for editing. On the right, you’ll see how to accomplish the basics, creating a layered file from your time-lapse, then how tomerge the images in two different ways. If you want to save the file in its multilayered form, remember to choose File>Save As… and pick Photoshop from the list of file options. Nextmonth: Easyways to improve pics withPhotoshop and Lightroom.
Step 1: Load up the files In Photoshop, go to File>Open and load the pictures from your time-lapse sequence. Say there are six files in all. On the second of the sequence, go to Select>All (Ctrl+A), then Edit>Copy (Ctrl+C). Close the picture down and on the first of the sequence, go to Edit>Paste. In the Layers palette (Window>Layers) you’ll now have the Background Layer and Layer 1. Repeat this with the other images until all are in added as layers. You can also use File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack…, click Add Open Files (the ones you want to use) and click OK, as shown above.
Step 2a: Mask them If you’re creating a picture that’s to show movement through the frame, in the Layers palette, click on the eye icons to turn all but the bottom two off. Now click on the second to bottom layer and go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. A mask will appear next to the layer. Now pick the Brush tool and, using a soft-edged tip, set its colour to black. Paint into the mask to reveal the layer below, showing the subject in a different place. Click the next layer up to make it active and turn its visibility back on. Add another mask, and repeat the process. Finally go to Layer>Flatten image.
Step 2b: Blend them If it’s light trails or moving clouds you want to show, you can using Blending modes to create the time- lapse effect. With the layers stacked up in the same manner, in the Layers palette, click on the second to bottom and then hold the Shift key and click on the top layer. This will highlight them all and now you can click where it says Normal and change the Blending mode to Lighten. This will show all the brightest parts of the layers, but if some parts are too bright, just mask them away, or use the Eraser tool to remove them. Finally go to Layer>Flatten image.
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