Ten top tips for terrific time-lapsing

Things to think about before pressing the big red button

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Yay! You've decided that you want to have a go at compiling a time-lapse video. You've read your tutorials, you've got an intervalometer, you think you've settled on a subject, and you're pretty sure that you're ready to go. Just glance through our top ten tips for terrific time-lapsing to be certain that you're covered from all angles.

1. Scout your location

Can you actually shoot where you want to shoot? No security guard is going to come up to you and move you on? You won't be obstructing a public right of way with your tripod? The tide isn't going to come in and wash away your set-up? Think about the practicalities of your chosen location.

2. Have fully charged batteries

Don't go anywhere without ensuring that your camera's battery is fully charged. What's the point of embarking on a time-lapse project only for it to come to a screeching halt because the power in your camera died? And don't forget that using live view mode will eat through your battery life, too. Make sure that whatever you're using for an intervalometer is fully charged, too.

3. Have spare batteries for everything you're using

Bring a spare camera battery, just in case, and one of those handy powerpacks for your smartphone or tablet if that's serving as your intervalometer.

4. Shoot in Raw if you can

Sure, it might not be possible to shoot a really long or large time-lapse video in Raw, but if you can, do. It'll make colour corrections and post-processing so much easier.

5. Consider your interval

If you're shooting in Raw, ensure that the interval between your exposures will allow sufficient time for the image to be written to the memory card. You don't want it buffering after 12 exposures.

Pretty time-lapse video of the Shard in London courtesy of Thomas Langley

6. Use a fast card 

Make life easier for yourself and use a fast memory card.

7. Check you're in manual focus

You don't want your point-of-focus shifting throughout your time-lapse video, so check that you're in manual focus before you start. And check that your point-of-focus is precisely where you want it to be. At least twice. 

8. Select your shutter speed with care

Your shutter speed should be roughly half of the interval between shots. This will ensure a smooth-looking video.

9. Use a 16:9 crop

If you want your time-lapse video to look like a professionally assembled piece, then shoot in 16:9 ratio. You can make framing easier by switching to movie-mode (if your camera has one) to set up the shot before flicking back to stills.

10. Think of yourself

Creating a time-lapse video can be a demanding experience. Think of everything that you might need to stay comfortable and safe while you're shooting it. What clothes do you need? How about a book? Have you made yourself a drink and snack? If you need to pee mid-filming, what are your options? Will you be safer and happier if you buddy-up with someone? A bit of self-care will go a long way to helping your create a good time-lapse video.

If you're new to time-lapsing and want an easy and fun introduction to it, or if you're an old hand and fancy contributing to an enormous crowd-sourced time-lapse extravaganza, think about signing up to Triggertrap's LapseWorld event. Throughout October, Triggertrap will be running time-lapse opportunities in London, Cape Town, Milan, New York, and San Francisco and then editing together all the participants' footage to create one gorgeous video showing off your skills and planet earth's wonders. You can learn more about it here