Time-lapse photography


There’s a lot to be said for the persistency of time-lapse photography – it makes life rather interesting. Reducing a period of a few hours (like a flower opening to the sun), a few months (like a flower growing or a baby growing inside a mother’s belly) or a year (seasonal timelapses, construction work) is amazing stuff.

Have you ever tried time-lapse photography?

  • Yes, I do it all the time
  • Yes, a few times
  • Yes, once
  • No, but I'll give it a shot
  • No, and I don't want to

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To learn more about time-lapse photography, why not try the Wikipedia article. For tutorials, check out the Haworth Village tutorial – it serves as a good introduction as well as a tutorial.

Time-lapse software

Taking the photos is all good and well, but you’ve got two hurdles: Taking a sequence of photographs, and going from photos to stop-animation. Some cameras actually have timelapse photography built in (although I can’t remember seeing it in any cameras since the Casio QV-8000 in the late 1990s – why? It’s easy to implement, and all digital cameras have built-in clocks! Come on, manufacturers, you can do better!), but if you aren’t that lucky, you have to either take the pictures manually, connect a time-lapse device to your camera (Such as the TC80N3), or use your computer to control the camera. The software that came with your camera often has a ‘control your camera from your computer’ type piece of software, which normally has a time-lapse function built in.

On the software side, there are loads of good programmes out there. For the Mac, the old classic is iStopMotion, which I’ve used briefly when it was in Beta, and I found it to be very interesting. It has since ‘grown up’ into a fully-fledged high-quality piece of software which is easy to use.

Granite Bay software make an application especially for Canon cameras, designed to take and merge the photos into videos.

Of course, you don’t have to take the video approach – you can also take very powerful still frame time lapse photos… Like the photo used at the top of this article!

Some inspiration

Check out time lapse photography on YouTube, Google Video.

Highlights: Rebuilding Ground Zero in NYC, Picasso painting, Walking around the Giza Pyramids, Repainting the ice on a hockey rink, a year of seasonal change in Norway, and finally, a time-lapse of a cross-country drive from LA to New York in 5 days.