Image of the August 2013 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
August 2013 Issue
Home / Articles / Skills

How to shoot a time-lapse video

Percival’s camera set up allows him to make stunning time-lapse videos. Photo: Supplied

Taupo tramper and photographer Bevan Percival has made a name for himself shooting time-lapse photos. Here are his top tips

To shoot a time-lapse at night, Percival says a full frame camera is required.

He uses a Canon 5D Mark II and shoots in RAW mode because this provides more latitude when editing.

A fixed tripod or a motorised tracking dolly is needed to mount the camera.

An intervalometer, a device that counts intervals of time, is attached to the camera and is used to set the number of frames taken in a given time and the time interval between shots.

Out in the field at night, he says to set the camera to bulb and set the exposure time through the intervalometer.

Percival usually takes 20 second exposures at night and opens his camera lens to allow the maximum amount of light through.

He uses a high ISO, usually 3200, and gives the camera a three second break between shots so the sensor can cool down.

“I probably shoot at least 400 frames in a sequence at night and that might take half the night and then I set up somewhere else and shoot there for the rest of the night,” Percival said.

Aside from the technical aspects, the rules for good landscape photography apply.

Try to look for scenes that have a lot of movement in them like clouds, the stars, or water.

“I cruise around looking for gnarly old trees and cool rocks with good backdrops,” Percival said. “It’s hard showing up at a place at night time and then trying to compose your image.

“It’s much easier to plan all that beforehand and to get there in the daylight to set everything up.”