Time Lapse Experiments

I still have a ton of photos I need to edit from the past several months, but instead I’ve been making time lapse videos! I was looking for an app I could download to my tablet and hook up to my camera for a short video project I was working on when I discovered this awesome app that not only did what I needed but also allowed me to make time lapses with my D-SLR! Needless to say, I was VERY excited. I have always wanted to try making time lapses. And this app made it super easy: I set how often I want the camera to take a photo and how long I want it to go, then the camera does its magic.

I quickly learned that battery life is my nemesis!!!!

The funny thing is, if I take a time lapse during the day, my tablet battery dies long before my camera does. I can get quite a few hours worth of photos, but I need to extend my tablet battery life to get a longer day lapse. I have a solution in the works but literally EVERY DAY for the past week has been cloudless except the one you can see at the beginning of the video so I haven’t experimented too much with that yet. That’s next on the list.

Now, if I take a time lapse at night (WHICH IS SUPER EFFING COOLLLLL!!!) my camera battery dies long before my tablet battery does, because the stars require long 30 second exposures. So that is why the star clips are so annoyingly short. There is no way to plug the camera directly into a wall outlet (and that wouldn’t do me any good out in the field anyway) so short of jerry rigging my battery with electrical wire (a frightening prospect) the only solution I’ve been able to find is to get a battery grip which allows me to have two batteries plugged in at once and doubles the length of time I can take a time lapse; which, in my opinion, still isn’t long enough. And no matter how many grips I looked at the reviews were mixed between people saying it worked great and other people saying it was junk. BUT it’s really the only solution since you can’t replace a battery during a time lapse because there is no way to get the camera back to the exact position it was in before. I’m thinking that I can solve this if I do more day-to-night time lapses (which are tricky as hell, even on aperture priority; I’ve tried and failed at them a couple of times which is why they didn’t make it to the video) but I’m thinking I can even out the battery lives of both the tablet and the camera and get a nice long clip that way… eventually. When I get better at this.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, which has helped me learn a lot. I messed around with the exposure too much during the first sunset clip and as a result it’s really flickery. I really wanted to get a time lapse of the moon and stars but there’s no way to expose for both properly so I figured I would be tricky and take two separate time lapses of each and just overlap them. Which sort of works but the frame rates are different which makes it kind of obvious and the moon goes behind the stars which is a double oops but I realize that if I go in frame by frame with photoshop and put the moon on top manually, it should look perfect but it’s just a little time consuming so I didn’t do it here.

I’m fine with sharing the imperfections in my work for now, since I’m just learning how to do this. It will probably be quite some time before I can put together a really nice time lapse video with a lot of different clips and do it WELL so I just wanted to share this little success along the way!

Also, another cool thing I learned: you can take the photos you took for the time lapse and use them to make star trail images. 🙂 This one I’m not 100% happy with because somehow a frame went missing and the 1min 45second delay between each frame caused there to be gaps between the stars instead of a perfect light trail, but whatever!! It’s awesome anyway, especially centered around Polaris like this. My first star trail image. So there you go.


I hope you enjoy the short video of my experiments 🙂 It’s best viewed on 1080p HD at full screen so you can really see the stars. If you look close enough and don’t blink, you might see a few of the shooting stars that went by – but they are fast!! Some people say they can’t see them.