Producing a long-term time-lapse is not an easy feat. Here are some lessons we learned.
1 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).
2. 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.
3. 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, like the Titan2 Solar. That way you can set-up at even the most remote of locations and the camera will work as a self-contained unit.
4. 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. 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, just the focusing point and the area surrounding it. This gives you the best metering for your shots disregarding any changes in ambient light in the rest of the frame.
5. 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. Lastly, the Titan2 Remote comes with remote live monitoring and instant access to images via 3G / WiFi. It is the best insurance against system failure and data loss.
This blog was originally published by Skyshot. Asia’s leading time-lapse production specialist.