In our previous articles, we talked about the basics of timelapse photography, how to shoot timelapse with direct sunlight and bulb ramping timelapse. In this article, we’ll talk about how to shoot day to night timelapse. If you are new to timelapse, check our previous article about the basics of timelapse first.
When you are making timelapse of a cityscape, day to night timelapse is the best option as you can show that city with moving clouds in the daytime, then the golden hour, then a blue hour with lights and finally colorful city lights in night time in a single video. It’s a little bit difficult because the light changes a lot and if your exposure is not changing properly between the shoot, your video will have lots of flickers and will not play smoothly.
In this article, we’ll talk about two methods. First, use your camera’s aperture priority mode to change the exposure as the light changes and second using a gadget like MIOPS Smart or Capsule 360 to control your exposure and make a smooth video.
What you need:
You need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens, a sturdy tripod, and a shutter release cable. For the first method, you don’t need anything else.
The Aperture Priority method:
In this method, we are depending on our camera to calculate the exposure value. Fix your camera on your tripod and set the frame. Focus manually and switch your camera to manual focus mode. Now change it to aperture priority mode, set the aperture to around f/8, ISO to 100 and white balance to daylight.
Now you need to calculate how many shots you need to take and what interval should be between each shot. To calculate this, you need to know the length of the final movie and time duration of shooting. After getting these parameters, we’ll use the following formula to calculate the time interval.
Time Interval = Recording Time / (Length of movie x frame per second)
Let’s say you start shooting at 5 pm and end the shoot at 8 pm, so your recording time is 3 hours or 10800 seconds. Now you want to create a 30 seconds movie, so this is the length of the movie. The standard “frame per second” of the movie is 24 so, the time interval would be:
10800 / (30 x 24)
10800 / 720 = 15 seconds
You need to have a 15 seconds gap between each shot.
Now you need to set a timer on your mobile for 15 seconds and click a shot after 15 seconds and reset the timer again.
The pros of this method are that you don’t need any special gadget, only a camera with a tripod is enough. But the cons of this method are that if your shooting time is three hours, you need to be there for the entire time and click the pictures. You can’ do anything else. Second, you are depending on your camera for all the exposure calculation and if some of the photos come under or overexposed, your final video will not play smoothly.
We can also make some changes in this method. When it becomes dark, your shutter speed will be very low and it’ll start showing trails. If you don’t want a slower shutter speed, you can fix the shutter speed and set the ISO to auto. In this case, your camera will change the ISO instead of shutter speed.
In this method, we’ll use MIOPS Smart or Capsule360 to control everything from exposure to clicking the camera. In both gadgets, Capsule360 is the better choice because it can pan, tilt or slide your camera and you can make timelapse with some motion.
Fix your camera on Capsule360, focus manually and switch it to manual focus. Now switch it to bulb mode, set aperture to around f/8, ISO to 100 and white balance to daylight.
Now start the app and you need to set some parameters.
First, select the angle of turning by selecting start (S) and finish (F) points. You also need to select whether you want to rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise. Once you set it, click on save.
FPS: Select the frame per second of your final video, ideally it should be 24 but if you want to make a movie in different FPS, set it here.
Interval: Now select the interval between the shots. In our manual method, our interval was 15 seconds so we’ll set a 15 seconds time interval here.
Mode: Capsule360 has two different modes. In ShootMS mode, Capsule360 stop the rotation and take the picture but in Continuous mode, Capsule360 can take a shot while it is moving. You can choose the mode according to your choice but I prefer ShootMS mode.
Exposure: Set the initial and final exposure value. Initial value means the shutter speed at the time of start shooting and the final value means the shutter speed at last shot.
Play Time: Finally select the playtime of the movie. As per our manual method, set it to 30 seconds.
Now tap on the start button and Capsule360 will take a picture every 15 seconds. It’ll also control the shutter speed according to the parameters you set and also rotate the camera to the angle you set.
Things to remember:
Shoot in RAW: Always shoot in RAW so if you have a tiny problem in exposure or white balance, you can fix it easily.
Spare battery: Keep a spare battery. When you are shooting for a long time, it’s possible that your battery drains in between the shoot. If you have a spare battery, you can change it between the interval periods.
Turn the screen off: To minimize the battery drain, turn off your screen. We don’t need to change settings between the shots so we don’t need to keep it on. If you want to check the pictures, you can turn it on and turn it off after checking the picture.
Related Article: An Easy to Understand Guide to Time-lapse Photography
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.