DSLR TimeLapse From Beginning to End Using Lightroom




Introduction: DSLR TimeLapse From Beginning to End Using Lightroom

About: Hi everyone out there, my name's Pablo Andrade , I'm a 25 year old photographer based in Bogotá, Colombia and currently residing in Barcelona, Spain. The reason of why I created an Instructables account it...

Hello again, as you see the title of this instructable sugests DSLR timelapse from beginning to end. So I'll try to cover from, post processing the photos (sort of), settings, and the timelapse itself.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on timelapse, but I'll do my best to cover every step involved in the making.

Let's get started. Shall we?

Step 1: Materials: Hardware and Software

You will need the following things:
-DLSR/camera that has built in intervalometer or that accepts remote cords/ shutter release.
-Solid tripod
-Intervalometer you can get them in ebay or amazon, very affordable, also there are wired ones (affordable) and wireless (expensive)

- Storage 8 Gb or greater. Depending on your camera resolution and the ammount of compression you are shooting at, keep in mind that the larger the files are the least you can shoot but the higher quality of the final video will be, in that case you might want to shoot in RAW and do some adjustments in your favorite photographic software or, low compression JPEG a.k.a JPEG large or fine.

-Wide angle lens, this depends on how much of the actual place you are shooting you want to get into your frame, so something in the neighborhood of 12 to 35mm will do the job. Keep in mind that if you are shooting in a crop sensor body you'll have to search for your camera field of view crop factor (CF for short), for most Nikon DSLR's the crop factor is 1.5x and most of the Canon crop factor is 1.6x. This means that if you are shooting a 1.5x body at 18mm you'll have the equivalent of 27mm. The same rule applies to the Canon's bodies except that is 1.6x except for some that are 1.3x (known as APS-H)

Still, you can crop your photos, but this will cause to reduce your overall resolution, let's say you are shooting at 18 megapixels, if you start to crop, it can be reduced to 12 megapixels and beyond, so keep that on mind as well.

-Card reader in case that your computer doesn't came with one.

Software. This is one of the most important part, without it you'll be ending up with houndreds or thousands of photos.

For my timelapses I used Lightroom 5 but you can use other versions as well and a preset to make it a video either 24, 25 or 30 fps and which comes in a Zip file, so you'll have to un-zip it, but I'll explain it in another step. For now I'll leave the link so you can download the file.

The file name is lrtimelapse.zip

And here's the link: http://lightroom-blog.com/presets/

Step 2: Adding the Presets in User Lightroom

First go to: http://lightroom-blog.com/presets/

Click on lrtimelapse.zip to download the file, then create a folder on the desktop or where you want to.

Open the file by clicking on the browser to open it.

Un-zip it on the folder you just created.

Now, open Lightroom.

Go to 'Slideshow' tab

Find the 'template browser' tab, then click on it.

There are two tabs Lightroom templates, and user templates, right click on user templates.

A sub menu will appear, click on import and browse for the folder where you un-ziped the files.

Once you've opened the folder, click on slideshow templates, then user templates and select all the files that appear in there and then click 'Open'

Now check the user templates to make sure that they've been imported.

If you've done everything right so far you'll be able to make your first timelapse, but first we need to cover the settings, so let's jump right into it.

Step 3: Camera and Intervalometer Settings

So far we've covered the list of parts and the software, now it's time to head into the tools that will make the timelapse possible, and these are, the camera and the intervalometer.

In the first step I said you need a solid tripod, and well, yes you need it. Why? Well, a solid tripod ensures you that if it's a windy day the camera won't move or vibrate, also I'm quite sure that noboy would like to hold theyr camera for a long period of time.

Okay, enough talk, let's get straight onto the point.

The settings, this might be the longest part, so grab your favorite beverage and get comfortable.

For the intervalometer.

The one I bought has 5 but I'll be covering 4 settings, delay, which is the same as the self timer on your camera, but here you can chose between hours, minutes or seconds, very useful for family shots, interval, how many hours, minutes, seconds between each photo, and long which is used to set the exposure time, also in hours, minutes and seconds you can use long and interval for 2 minute exposure shots with intervals of 10 seconds. and lastly you can program it for how many shots to be taken from 1 to 399 or undefined which is shown as [--], you can also lock the settings, turn the backlight on, and comes with and built in timer, so if you are planning to shoot a really long exposure or experimenting once you pressed the remote release and locked it in place the screen will show how many seconds have pased since the shutter is open, plus an countdown timer which will show you the time remaning for the shutter to close.

Now, because this is completely experimental, there's no wrong way, so I encourage you to try different settings.

For the camera, it depends what kind of ambient light you are shooting, and also if there's moving subjects, or if it's a clouldless night with plenty of stars to photograph.

When it comes to shooting timelapse's I preffer to use full manual control, this means, manual ISO, manual shutter speed, manual apperture, manual focus, everything manual except for the white ballance. Why? Because I can adjust it later on post production.

So, how does this work, first of all, find the location, make sure the camera is in single servo auto focus, find a spot to focus, press the shutter half way until you hear the focus confirmation beep. Once you are sure the camera has focused where you want to switch to manual focus to avoid any changes due to moving subjects.

Make sure the light meter reads '0' or you can shoot under or over exposed if you want to, just don't change the shutter speed during the timelapse to avoid any flickering during the playback. Why do I keep the shutter speed the same? Because if I'm shooting a landscape and ther are some clouds over the threes the light will change, and after you have put it all together it will look very natural the light changes. That's why.

For moving subjects, e.g using a rather slow shutter speed like 1/4th of a second will add blur and make it more natural. So if you want to shoot moving subjects in broad daylight I suggest you to use a ND filter to achieve the shutter speed you want.

For shooting at stars you need to use a really slow shutter speed, something between 10 to 20 seconds, and higher ISO's, such as 1600, 3200, 6400, etc... But this will affect the record time, since the slower the shutter speed is the more time is needed to record the images.

To find the record time there's a simple equation, fT * fps = nS * invl / 60 where fT is footage time times frames per second times invl how much seconds between each shot devided by 60 to calculate the amount of minutes that will take to get all the photos, you can also change that 60 by 3600 to calculate how many hours will it take.

Anther tip, if the exposure time on your camera is greater than 1/10th of a second and you want to change the 'long' settings on the intervalometer to 1 second, and in the equation add 1 to your interval. But, if you are doing long exposure timelapse change long to the desired time and the shutter speed to bulb, and, if your interval time is 1 second, on the invl part of the equation to 1 which is reffered as 1 second add the shutter speed you've choosen, e.g it's 15 seconds, 1+15 equals 16, so invl is equal to 16. Keep in mind that if you've choosen minutes don't forget to change minutes to seconds.

Hope this didn't gave you a headache, now let's move to the part where we put it all together.

Step 4: Importing the Files Onto Lightroom

We're almost done, now it's time to import the files so we can twich it.

In Lightroom go to the develop tab, then, go to file ---> Import photos and video, find the location of your files and import them.

Once you have imported them, on the timeline select all the photos, in windows control + A in mac command + A

Then open the histogram tab and search for crop overlay, click on it and change the aspect ratio to 16:9

At this point you can adjust the photos however you want to, white balance, exposure, add or remove noise, many options to play with.

Make sure all the photos are selected and click on sync, so any change that you've applied will apply to all the photos.

Now, the last part, let's make a timelapse.

Step 5: Making the Timelapse

This is it, the last part, where everything becomes one.

In Lightroom go to slideshow tab, open template browser, and click on user template, choose either 24, 25 or 30 fps
for this tutorial I choosed 24 fps.

Make sure that the option that's selected is all filmstrip photos

Then click on export video, choose the resolution on the window that appears and choose a name for it, select where you want to store it. and the play and enjoy your timelapse.

Step 6: Everything Else and Final Video

Well that's it for today, I hope this was helpful.

If you have any questions feel free to write them down in the comments section.

Feel free to follow me if you like it, and as always was a pleasure to make it.

You can watch one of my first attempt of a timelapse here:
[Play Video]

Until next time.

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    5 Discussions


    3 years ago

    hi, I cant seem to extract the file, it says file error. Can you help me pls thx


    Reply 3 years ago

    I had a similar problem. Apparently has to do with the memory on your computer. If that's not the case it could be the folder location or file type


    4 years ago

    how do you add music please? Great tutorial can't wait to try it.


    Reply 4 years ago

    To add music you're better of with doing the timelapse on Lightroom and then adding the music on your favorite video editing software.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Reply 4 years ago

    I've never done video editing so don't know what software to even begin with ☺will Google