Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jan. 12, 2008: Time Lapse Experiment #001

I've been reading up on time lapse photography lately and decided I'd give it a try. I found an interesting little application called Gawker that lets you use the built-in camera on a Mac to make time lapse movies.

I had played around with it a little bit. So I decided to try it in a practical situation when I went back to Magnolia Cemetery on my first photography excursion for this blog.

It was a little difficult to align the camera and get the composition I wanted. While I was setting the app up to record, my laptop shifted on the stone wall I set it on, so I had to realign it again after I started recording. That's why you see part of my head and an awkward shift in camera positioning at the start of the movie. The timing on the video isn't as fast as I wanted. I shot at 10 second intervals with three frames per second. I maybe should have gone for five second intervals on the photos. The sequence was shot over a 20 minute period.

There's no way to set the exposure manually, so the movie jumps all over the place with exposure values. I'm not sure how Gawker determines exposures. The exposure on the foreground objects seems consistent, so I think it exposed for the object closest to the camera. The statues have almost the same exposure throughout the series, but the sky jumps all over the place. Manual exposure on Gawker would be a good addition.

I may do a few more time lapse photos with my laptop and Gawker. But, I'm going to shift to primarily using my Canon 10D and process the photos through iMovie so I can add sound and captioning. My first planned time lapse project is to shoot the Butler County Courthouse just after 5 p.m. on a work day. The courthouse is in the center of a round-about, so I should get some nice traffic and hopefully it's still dark enough to get the cars with the lights on.

If that doesn't work out, I'm going to try a time lapse series around the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. There's an overpass for a train there and the traffic is usually pretty high. If that fails, I'll move out to the interstate and try that. That location is always full of traffic.

(011308 Note: I did some math on the number of frames I'd have to shoot to do a traffic sequence. I need a whole lot more frames than I thought I would to keep a smooth flow in the traffic. I think I can realistically pull off a 30 second clip. I'm going to try it this week on a day I can get off at 5 p.m. exactly. Overall though, it's going to be more realistic to focus on other time lapse projects. I don't want to frag my camera's mirror on time lapse experiments.)


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