So about a year and a bit ago I was feeling a bit crazy and decided to spend £1300 on a new camera, extra lens and the usual accessories, cases, filters etc. At the time I was looking for a camera that I could use for film making too, I’d used the Canon 7D and liked it, so I either wanted a 7D or something very similar. After ruling out the 7D on price, the 550D & 600D for their cheap feel and lack of features, I decided on the Canon 60D.

I ordered the camera as a kit with the 18-135mm lens as I was new to DSLRs and didn’t know where to start. Before it had even turned up, I also bought a second hand Sigma 30mm F1.4 prime lens on eBay after reading good things about it on various websites.

So now I’ve got all this kit I need to find something to do with it. Other than my new role as official family photographer, I though I’d have a go with time lapses. For this I also needed a timer remote to plug into the camera, and after a bit of Googling I ended with a cheap Chinese version of the official Canon remote for £15 on eBay.

Timer remote from eBay

Capturing the time lapse

I’m going to start by saying I’m no expert in time lapses, in fact I’d never done one before this and didn’t even research how to do them. I just went about it the way I thought they would be done… It’s very possible I’ve done it in an extremely convoluted way or missed something essential (if that is the case please point out my flaws). I just wanted to try this out by myself.

So here’s what I took with me:

  • Canon 60D
  • 18-135mm lens (I needed it for the wide angle)
  • 32GB SDHC Card
  • 16GB SDHC Card (as a backup)
  • Timer Remote
  • Joby GorillaPod SLR
  • Fully charged battery

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the setup on the day – I wasn’t forward thinking enough to take some, but I will for future blogs.

Equipment for the shoot

Camera set up

I found a good spot on the riverbank directly opposite the London Eye…

The view where I set up the camera

Luckily the wall had a wide, almost flat ledge to set the camera on. I still used the GorillaPod for extra stability, but I also didn’t want to scratch the bottom of my shiny new camera. I wasn’t sure on camera set up as I was still getting used to its settings, but here is how I decided to set it up…

  • Large JPEG (I didn’t want to mess around with RAW for my first attempt)
  • Camera set on “M” for manual (I locked in the settings so the camera wouldn’t go adjusting itself between shots)
  • Manual focus (in case it tried re-focusing for each shot)
  • Aperture F8
  • ISO 100
  • Exposure 1/400
  • 18mm focal length (lens set at its widest)

I set up the timer to take a photo every second and set it going for about 45 mins. I had a lot of curious looks from tourists walking by while it was going. It’s quite noisy having the shutter go every second! I also noticed it was causing the GorillaPod to shake very slightly. I didn’t have anything more sturdy to mount it on so decided I’d just go with it and hope the shots were ok.

By the end of it I had 1797 photos on my SD card, all ready for processing!

Photo management

I decided to use Adobe Lightroom to import and tweak the photos ready for the edit as it’s quite powerful with large catalogues of photos.

Adobe Lightroom with all the photos imported

After they were all imported I decided to crop them all to a 16:9 aspect ratio to make it easier manage in the edit. I applied the 16:9 crop overlay to first photo and then copied the setting, selected the other 1796 photos and pasted the setting on to them.

Applying the 16:9 crop overlay

I then exported them at full resolution ready for the edit – I didn’t make any other tweaks to the photos other than the crop.

The edit

To stitch this all together I used Adobe Premiere as I know my way around it. I started by importing the folder of 1797 photos, selecting them all and then dragging them onto the timeline. Each frame was about a second long as default, so I highlighted them all on the timeline and changed them all in bulk to one frame each.

1 second playing back now was 25 seconds worth of photos. For my 45 mins standing around I now had 1 minute 11 seconds of time lapse.

Premiere with all the stills on the timeline

At first I rendered this out and was happy with my first time lapse. But after looking at it a few times, I thought maybe I could liven it up a bit.

I created some new sequences, 5 in total, where I zoomed in on the image in different parts and slowly panned around.

One of the sequences I created to zoom and move around the image

I then added all these new sequences on to final edit sequence. I added a title plate at the start, transitions between the shots and some music to play over it.

Final edit sequence

It still wasn’t right, so I opened up Magic Bullet Looks and added the tilt-shift effect to all the shots to give it that miniature effect. I think it works well with the boats, although the overall effect would have been better if I’d shot the whole thing from a higher angle.

Magic Bullet Looks

Here is the finished time lapse…
Music: Chicane – Barefoot

Anyway, that’s about it, there is not much else to say. I’ve skimmed over some of the detail, but I didn’t want to make this too boring. You can ask me any questions if you want to know more.

Mr Geek Face