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Old February 7th, 2014, 09:21 AM   #1
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Location: Charleston, WV
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My First Timelapse

Hey guys…

I am wanting to try some timelapse work for some side projects and I was wondering if any of you have done that before?

I downloaded Magic Lantern on my T3i last night and played around with it a bit. I know with the right combinaton of settings, I'll be able to get some pretty amazing shots, but I was wondering if any of you had any tips for me.

I am basically wanting to shoot the West Virginia State Capitol (looks very similar to the Capitol in Washington and is lit up at night) with the stars behind it. Now I'm not sure how that will work with the building lit up. How much of an issue will that be? I have a 50mm prime, kit lens (18-55mm) and a 70-200. Which would be best to do it with?

I edit everything on FCPX so I'm not sure if that program will do everything I need after I complete the shoot.

Anyway, any suggestions will be helpful!

Thanks!

Last edited by Brock Burwell; February 7th, 2014 at 10:25 AM.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 01:26 PM   #2
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Re: My First Timelapse

IMO, the best timelapses are done with a small aperture for deep focus and a long shutter for smooth motion. In general, you will want the widest available lens to get the most information in view.

Ideally, you would shoot at:
* 18mm focal length
* f/16
* 4 second interval
* 2 second shutter
* ISO 100

Depending on the lighting conditions and picture profile, these settings might be about right for a night shoot. You probably want a faithful or neutral picture profile with low contrast in order to keep the lights from blowing out too badly and to capture shadows.

If the exposure is too dark, increase the ISO up to 400, 800, or your personal comfort level and then open the aperture if you still need more light. If the exposure is too bright, use an ND filter. In broad daylight, I strive for the same settings as above. That can require an extreme ND filter, up to 10 stops. For a night shoot, I doubt that you'd need more that a couple of stops, if any.

4 seconds is a nice starting interval. For slow moving stuff like clouds, increase to 20 or 30 seconds. For faster moving stuff like cars, 1 second is good. For stars, go long. If there are pedestrians in the shot, I like 1-4 seconds.

Make sure you have a large formatted card and a fully charged battery.

Good luck!
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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:41 PM   #3
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Re: My First Timelapse

Went to test a shot tonight and I could not see a thing on the LCD screen. I did everything I could to turn the exposure up but nothing would fix it.

ISO aperture and shutter speed all did nothing. Any ideas on what I was doing wrong? I didn't even start the time lapse cause I couldn't see a thing on the screen.

I was in the back yard testing it and there were a few lights outside from my neighbors house but I didn't figure that had anything to do with it. Any suggestions?
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Old February 8th, 2014, 12:06 AM   #4
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Re: My First Timelapse

I haven't used Magic Lantern for timelapse. I've only used an external intervalometer.

In my case with the 5D2, I put Live View into Stills Only and Exposure Simulation and then I take stills. When Live View is in Movie Mode, it limits the shutter time to 1/30.

I take some stills and review them with the histogram to set my exposure, rather than doing it by the live display.

Of course, with Magic Lantern, it might be completely different!
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Old February 8th, 2014, 11:01 AM   #5
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Re: My First Timelapse

Are you using the intervalomoter or the FPS override with magic lantern? The difference being the FPS override puts the lapse together in camera and the other you have to do in post with a bunch of still shots. Using the FPS override can be tricky because once you turn it on, the live view behaves in the way you have it set up which can be a pain to make any settings with.
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Old February 8th, 2014, 11:57 AM   #6
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Re: My First Timelapse

Assuming you didn't accidentally leave the lens cap on :) ....

If it's too dark, you may need to put your shutter speed down so that your exposure is measured in seconds instead of fractions of. Magic lantern can do this, or put your camera in "B" (bulb mode) will let you do exposures up to 30 seconds (?) but somewhere around 1 or 2 seconds is a good place to start.

There is also a mode in Magic Lantern that will change exposure settings for you, during a timelapse, which is handy if you're filming a sunset/sunrise, for instance. You could use that during sunset, then change to standard time lapse methods once the sun is down.

For settings, I'd start with a nice, modest ISO. On a T3i, ISO 800 is generally a good maximum to avoid noise. For landscapes, you probably don't want to open up more then f/5.6, in order to have more of the scene in focus, but I'd go for f/8-f/12 to start, depending on the scene.

Lens choice may depend on the look you want to create - and want you want to include in the shot. A wider lens will show more surrounding scenery (left+right, or above if you shoot vertical), or a zoom lens will be more cropped and pull any background closer to your subject. You could try both - start with a wider lens, and then choose elements to focus on using your zoom lens.

If you really want to go big... where does the sun set compared to the front of the building? Behind? That would make a great shot. Is there a time of year when the moon would rise from behind the building? Use this tool: Sunrise & Sunset Calculator for Photography
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Old February 8th, 2014, 02:30 PM   #7
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Re: My First Timelapse

And be sure to take something else to do with you or you will be bored out of your mind.
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