Photography of Construction Projects: How to Plan a Time Lapse Photo Shoot

Time lapse photography is a wonderous art. Although many may view this as a relatively new tradition, it actually was first used in the 1870’s when a photographer by the name of Eadweard Muybridge practiced this method to photograph a moving horse.

In 1897, it made its first appearance in a film named Carrefour De L’Opara by a man named Georges Melies.

Other early practitioners of this art include, Frank Percy-Smith who used it to capture natural events, and to make documentaries.

Fast forward to today and this method is widely used in advertisements and films, including documentaries. We can now easily and comfortably view material that would take hours or potentially many months in a mere few seconds or minutes.

Professionals such as GHPX construction photography might make time lapse photography look mesmerizing and masterful, but there is no need to be apprehensive about conducting a time lapse photography session.

It helps if you feel passionate and connected about the subject matter. If it is a theme you adore, one that is close to your heart, it will more likely be a task of passion and dedication, rather than fraught with angst and a lack of understanding about the material.

Firstly, be patient, this will take you a considerable amount of time. From initial preparation, conducting the session and putting it all together.

Firstly, what is time lapse photography?

Time lapse photography entails taking a photograph of the same thing/item at regular and ongoing intervals.

This event may take minutes, hours or in some cases weeks or months.

This is usually to capture an occurrence, such as a sunset, sunrise, flower blooming, a person aging etc.

What is the reason behind time lapse photography?

It makes moments and events that take a longer period of time, appear to go faster than what they do.

Photographs of materials, such as traffic moving, people walking, or shopping center dining area throughout the day can be compiled into footage.

This is then sped up so that the event is played rapidly. The whole day passes within a few minutes, rather than the hours it actually takes.

Other events such as a flower blooming or an animal nesting and giving birth may take a season or two, but with time lapse photography, it can be viewed in mere moments.

What’s involved in putting together a time lapse photo session?

Pick your subject and venue. You may elect to utilize an office space or busy city street, or a more natural subject such as an animal nesting, preparing for their offspring and giving birth or a sunset.

Be prepared. As this is likely to be a lengthy exercise, pack enough snacks and water for the time you need. Take steps to ensure you have clothing in case you need to cover up due to rain or cold and enclosed shoes if you need to hike in triggered or difficult terrain.

What equipment is best for a time lapse photo session?

Naturally a camera is essential.

A DSLR or mirrorless camera is best, although any regular camera or smart phone can be utilized.

A tripod or something to hold your camera to keep it still. Any movement or change in position can throw of the effect of the shoot.

Be sure to take your pictures with the highest resolution possible (RAW format) as this ensures quality standard pictures.

Memory cards and a few of them too. You’ll be taking multiple shots of the same commodity over a long period of time. Being able to adequately store them is important.

Neutral density filters decrease the volume of light coming through the camera lens.

An intervalometer, which is an external piece of equipment which signals to your camera to take pictures at certain intervals in a set amount of time.

Ok, what settings should I use?

The best setting to shoot time lapse photography in is in manual setting. It might all seem quite daunting.

To break it down, consider the time lapse interval as the number of frames per second in your end product movie.

You’ll need to be mindful the rate at which your subject moves so you can pick the right time lapse interval. If the item is moving fast, you’ll need shorter segments (around one to three seconds) than if they were moving slower.

In this case, you’ll need to ensure there isn’t to much space between each picture as it may appear to be skipping, rather than having the nice even flow effect you envisionage.

If, however, your material is moving slower, it may be shot with larger gaps of up to thirty seconds.

Select an aperture which will ensure your target is kept in good light and remains in focus.

Use the manual focus setting over the auto focus as this will ensure a steady focus for each and every shot.

With the ISO setting, it will be determined on your light. A low ISO is the preferred method as it decreases the graininess in pictures, but also needs a higher light setting.

If you’re taking your pictures with limited light, you’ll need to increase your ISO. Bear in mind this can make your video appear grainer.

Use a fast aperture of 1/100 or above will display clear images if your target is moving at a rapid rate and 1/50 or slower if you are wanting to capture fast moving objects or if you’re in a busy location.

What happens after I have finished the photo session?

After you’ve completed the photo session, you’ll need to process the material on your computer.

The best way to do this is with editing software and compile it into footage.

Put all the images out in a timeline and take your time putting it all together so it flows evenly.

The final stage is to export the material into a video.

Author: Therese Vickers