5 Must-haves for a Successful Long Term Time-Lapse
The success of a long term time-lapse hinges on the right choice of location and equipment. Here are a few must-haves for successful long term time-lapses.
Choose the Right Location
The first aspect that you have to consider is the location. A long term time-lapse will require your equipment to be set up and stay set for days, months and even years on end. It is thus pertinent, to be absolutely sure that the choice of location is ideal. For example, you need to take into consideration whether there is a lightning risk or risk of pilferage or damage due to inclement weather. If setting up at a construction site you have to consider the height restrictions (if any).
Seek Insurance Coverage
Beyond the risk of damage due to inclement weather, the risk of theft is paramount. A time-lapse set-up can easily comprise of several thousand dollars’ worth of investment. All of it lay exposed for days on end with little or no human monitoring. An ideal scenario for a thief. Despite the best choice of location, the risk is significant enough to look for insurance coverage.
Ensure Continuous Power Supply
With a long term time-lapse a constant supply of stable power assumes critical importance. One thing about technology and weather is that they are never in your control. You never know when the weather is going to turn for worse and with it a power failure. Backup power is essential. A built-in battery pack that can last for days if not weeks is important. A provision to generate power using solar energy would be perfect. That way you can set-up at even the most remote of locations and the camera will work as a self-contained unit.
Get a Stable Mounting
A stable mounting ensures a smooth time-lapse movie. It is imperative that the mounting platform is stable. Special camera mounts are available that will ensure a shake-free capture irrespective of the time frame.
Use the Right Camera Setting
The right camera setting should be a mixture of prudence and necessity. Setting manual focusing is prudent as otherwise, the auto-focus mechanism will keep adjusting focus after every frame. That would create visual jerk.
For a similar reason, you would want to keep the aperture fixed. Otherwise, in auto exposure mode your camera will keep changing both aperture and shutter speed. With changing aperture the depth of field of your frames will change too, thus ruining your time-lapse. When you set your camera to aperture priority mode, depth of field remains fixed. The camera will keep tweaking the shutter speed to balance the exposure.
Additional settings would include auto white balance. This will ensure that your camera can handle changing color temperature throughout the day and give you an auto-corrected white balance for all the shots.
Metering should be set to spot. If you have a fixed spot to focus on, lock your focus on it by switching to Spot metering. Spot metering takes into consideration only 3-5% of the frame. This gives you the best metering for your shots disregarding any changes in ambient light in the rest of the frame.
Shoot in 4K and above.
The main reason why we choose to use a the Titan2 DSLR time-lapse system to shoot long term time-lapse is better picture quality & resolution. Setting the camera to shoot at 18 megapixels and above ensures a 4K video resolution that is future-proof.
Next Article – Why we shoot in 4K / 6K