Monday, February 04, 2013

A Lapse in Time

One kind of cool function on my Nikon D200 camera is something I almost never use: the built-in intervalometer. It's a setting that allows the camera to take pictures at specified intervals during a given time range. This is what people use to create time-lapse videos, and even though I tried my hand at this sort of thing last Spring I haven't really seen the need to do it again. That changed a few weeks ago, when my wife and I decided to bite the bullet and get a storm shelter installed in our garage. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to give the ol' intervalometer a whirl, and am fairly pleased with the results:

The video contains around 1800 pictures shot at 14-second intervals throughout the course of roughly eight hours. But this post isn't so much about the movie or the tornado shelter, but how I went about creating and editing the final video.

For starters, I knew I had a couple of issues to deal with up front. The first was the issue of power, or lack thereof. My camera battery lasts a while, but there is no way it would have done a shoot like this without losing power after an hour or two. At first I thought I would ask a coworker if I could borrow his battery pack, and he graciously consented. But shortly thereafter it hit me that even the mighty battery pack would only last three or four hours, which meant I was going to have to buy a power cord. Nikon sells one for $128, but I found an off-brand model on Amazon for about $25. If someone is doing these sorts of projects on a regular basis it would probably be wise to get the name-brand adapter since other companies can use substandard electronic components that might not be good for regular use, but for the occasional project it's probably fine.

Next up was the lens. Regular readers know I'm a huge fan of the 50mm f/1.8 lens, but it just wasn't going to cut the concrete mustard on this project since the field of view on that lens is so narrow. I wanted a wide angle of view to capture all the installing action, which meant I needed a lens that could capture most of my garage from my camera's vantage point in the far back corner.  Fortunately, another coworker had just the thing: a bare-bones no-nonsense 18-55mm kit lens.  It was ideal for this type of photo shoot for a couple reasons:

• 18mm wide angle meant it could capture as much of the garage as I needed
• 3.5 maximum aperture would be fine since the photoshoot was outside in the daytime, which meant plenty of available light
• It's not incredibly expensive, so if it got broken or cracked by a piece of flying debris I could buy a replacement without breaking the bank.

Behold, the kit lens! Sometimes it's all you need to get the job done.
With the power supply and the lens checked off my list, the only thing left to do was prepare for the photo shoot itself. I found a corner in the garage that was as far back and out of the way as possible, and spent a while playing around with various settings on the camera in order to facilitate an 8-hour shoot. Because the lighting conditions would change throughout the day I decided to let the camera control most of the exposure, but I wanted individual pictures to be clear enough to people would be able to discern what was happening. After some fiddling I arrived at the following settings:

• Lens zoomed out to 18mm, to capture as much of the garage as possible.
• Focus distance set manually to infinity. Autofocus would have been a mess, because the camera would have focused on all kinds of different things throughout the day. Manual focus ensured that every picture was focused exactly the same.
• Aperture opened to f/3.5, to let in as much light as possible given that the shoot would start before there was much daylight.
• Shutter speed set at 1/60, which would capture movement without much blur. In hindsight I could have set this a little slower, like 1/30.
• ISO set to 800. Normally I don't like going up to 800 because the D200 gets a little noisy, but I was trying to get the early morning pictures to be properly exposed.
• Matrix metering, since I needed a good overall exposure. I often use Spot metering if I want to make sure a certain point on the image (usually the focus point) is properly exposed, but Matrix metering basically looks at the entire photo when adjusting exposure rather than just one point. This would be much more useful given the nature of this photo shoot than Spot or Center-Weighted metering.

I shot in Shutter Priority mode, which meant the camera would be adjusting the aperture throughout the day in order to maintain proper exposure. That was preferable to setting one aperture and letting the camera adjust shutter speed, since I wanted to minimize blur in the photographs.
Setting the intervalometer on my Nikon D200
One other thing to consider is the interval for shooting, which involved a bit of math. The intervalometer on my D200 takes up to 999 photos per session, but I knew that would not be enough to document the entire day for a time-lapse shoot. I was also going to be at work most of the day, save for one hour when I usually come home for lunch, which meant that I could essentially break the shoot up into two four-hour sessions. At 14400 seconds per session, taking 999 pictures would mean 14.41 seconds between shots. Because of this, a 15-second interval would have been ideal, but since it was morning and I wasn't thinking clearly I set the interval for 14 seconds, which it turns out was enough to capture about 3 hours 53 minutes--just shy of four hours. Fortunately, I went home for lunch a tad early and was able to reset the intervalometer a few minutes after it hit 999 pictures, so I didn't really lose any shots. The guy doing the installation was also out dumping a load of dirt, so the shots I did miss weren't even important.

If you are setting up for your own time-lapse shoot, you might try this online time-lapse calculator. It will help you figure out which intervals to use and how many pictures to shoot given the constraints and conditions of your photo shoot.

Before I went back to work I reset the timer again, which resulted in a total of 2160 pictures taken throughout the entire day. I will be posting a tutorial of how I turned those into a 2.5-minute video in a few days, but suffice it to say it was much easier thanks to some of the innovations Apple introduced with FCPX compared to their previous offerings like Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Express.


Steve Hanson said...

Thanks for the timelaps video! I used to make those with my video camera (and then use software to speed them up).

I cant believe they sell power cords for $128 -- it's a power cord. That sounds like highway robbery.

Anonymous said...

I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
I am quite certain I'll learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Stop by my homepage; great all inclusive vacation packages
Also see my site ::

Anonymous said...

Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your site by chance, and I am stunned why this accident didn't happened in advance! I bookmarked it.
Feel free to surf my blog ... schnell geld verdienen

Anonymous said...

Remarkable things here. I am very satisfied to peer your
post. Thanks so much and I am having a look ahead to touch you.
Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?
Also see my site > forex news

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog
and I am impressed! Very useful info particularly the last part :)
I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular info
for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

Feel free to surf to my weblog: cash business ideas

Julie said...

Super cool time lapse video, very well done! And congrats on getting a new storm shelter! Very good idea by the way ~ getting a storm shelter, I bet having your precious little one really instigated the necessity for one of those.

Anonymous said...

excеllent publіsh, verу informatіνе.

І wondеr ωhy thе oppositе ѕpecialіstѕ of thіs sеctor ԁo not
understand this. Υou should рroceeԁ your wгіting.
I'm confident, you'νе а great reаԁers' base already! click through the up coming page

Anonymous said...

I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and reporting!
Keep up the good works guys I've incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.

Here is my web site; more twitter followers

Anonymous said...

Very energetic article, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a
part 2?

my web page; easy money loans
My web site :: make money online working at home

Anonymous said...

I likе ωhat уou guys aгe up too.

Such clever work anԁ exposurе! Κeep up the good worκs guys I've incorporated you guys to my own blogroll.

Anonymous said...

Definitely belіеve that which
you stаted. Υour fаvouгіtе reason seemed tο be οn the
intеrnеt thе simpleѕt factor to have іn mind of.
I say to yοu, I definitelу get annoyed
while pеoрle conѕider worriеs that they јuѕt ԁоn't recognise about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks
My web page -

Anonymous said...

At thіѕ time it aρpeaгѕ like Mоvаble Type is the
preferrеԁ blogging platfоrm out there
rіght noω. (from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog? visit the following web site
Also see my page: visit the following web site

Anonymous said...

This article is really a good one it helps new the web viewers, who
are wishing for blogging.

Here is my weblog - Cruise Ships for sale

Anonymous said...

It's actually very difficult in this active life to listen news on TV, so I just use internet for that purpose, and take the most recent information.

Also visit my web site: legit ways to make money

Anonymous said...

But cellulite can also be a problem for some men, and with certain hormonal
conditions it is actually quite common. Later,
the skin will come into view smooth as lying down, but the dimpling
will appear when standing. The device utilizes a cutting-edge laser fiber that delivers laser energy
to melt the fat deposits, while also thermally subscising the tissue bands.

Feel free to surf to my page; How to get rid of cellulite naturally

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think your ѕite might be having browser
cоmpatibility іssues. When Ι look at
your webѕіte in Fіrefox, it looκs fine but when opening in ӏnteгnet Exploгer, it haѕ some overlapрing.
I juѕt ωantеd to give you a quick heaԁs up!
Otheг then that, ѕupеrb blog!

Ѕtop by mу blοg :: problems with yaz

Anonymous said...

I visited many web sites however the audio quality for audio songs current at this site is in fact superb.

my web page:

Anonymous said...

Hurrаh! At laѕt I got a wеbsite from wherе I κnοw how to actually gеt
valuable іnformation conceгning my ѕtudy
and knoωleԁge.

Anonymous said...

Asking questions аге аctually good thіng if you are not unԁerѕtanding
ѕomеthіng tоtally, but this paгаgraph provides fastidіous undегstanding even.
Home Page

Anonymous said...

Heya! I realіze this is kіnd of оff-topic however I had to asκ.

Does managing a well-eѕtablіsheԁ wеbѕite likе yours require a lot
of work? I am brand new to гunning a blog but I do write in
my dіaгy dаіly. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

Anonymous said...

Having read this I thought it was really informative.
I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together.
I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time
both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

Here is my web-site work from home

Anonymous said...

Good information. Lucky me I discovered your blog by accident
(stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!

My page; acrylic glasses

Anonymous said...

здесь на веб-блоге вы сумеете увидеть громадный выбор [url=]видео телефон[/url].

Anonymous said...

This post will help the internet visitors for creating new
webpage or even a blog from start to end.

Visit my web blog - sizegenetics

Anonymous said...

You've made some really good points there. I checked on the net to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.

Feel free to visit my homepage - free movies on porn

Anonymous said...

clicks here Some insurers limit the payouts overall for pre-existing conditions, or new insurers may not pay out at all if you switch providers. You need to be realistic and face the fact that you can't control all the things in your life and some situations are bound to happen.