Photographer and filmmaker Kasper Rolstead is divided simple tips so you can shoot time lapse even with basic equipment.
Rolstead has been perfecting his time-lapse technique for several years. As a result, he made many short films, such as The Four Seasons in Denmark, which use this method to show the beauty of nature and the changes that take place in it.
The photographer does not use very expensive equipment, his favorite cameras are Sony Alpha 6300 and Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless cameras. long hikes.
Rolsted mainly uses manual focus lenses from Samyang — 12mm, 21mm, 50mm and 100mm. Most time-lapse photographers do not use autofocus — this can cause the focus to “jump” during shooting.
To add movement to his work, he uses Edelkrone’s motorized SliderPlus Medium with Action and Target module, and to get shots from above, he works with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone. However, looking back at the beginning of his work with time lapses, Rolsted notes that he shot his first time lapse on a smartphone and encourages photographers who may not have the right camera to do the same.
“I think it’s more important to focus on finding interesting landscapes and scenery than buying expensive equipment,” Rolsted says. “If you get more interested, you can always buy a camera, but there is no need to invest in an expensive full-frame camera. An inexpensive APS‑C camera is good for time lapse.”
Likewise, sliders and a tripod head can add variety to your shots, but these are optional pieces of equipment and can be expensive and heavy to carry.
The first thing a time-lapse photographer needs to make sure the camera is stable is that there are no shaky shots. In other words, it’s better to get a good sturdy tripod.
The Neutral Density (ND) filter is another useful piece of equipment, Rolsted says. This helps limit the light that passes through the lens to the image sensor and allows you to use slower shutter speeds to create motion blur on fast moving subjects.
“For best results, the shutter speed should be half the shooting interval. For example, if an interval of two seconds is selected, then the shutter speed should be one second, ”he adds.
If Rolsted started shooting timelapses today, based on his current experience, he would choose the following as his starter set for timelapse:
- Sony a6400 in combination with Tamron 17–70mm f / 2.8;
- tripod Manfrotto MT190 XPRO4 190 with ball head Manfrotto 496 Compact;
- a set of ND filters, such as the Haida Slim ND filter kit: ND8x, ND64x and ND1000x.
According to him, shooting time-lapses is an easy task, but editing can be a difficult process. Shooting a timelapse is very different from editing it and can definitely take a lot of time.
For those new to time lapses, Rolsted recommends first picking a specific subject and applying the same knowledge of composition as you would with regular photography. After that, the photographer must take into account the changes that occur over time, because “a time lapse in which nothing changes is not very interesting.”
For example, in a short film from the Scottish Highlands, Rolstead captured moving clouds that also reflect on the surface of the water, wind shaking trees, people walking along mountain paths, a waterfall creating fluid motion, and much more. All these different movements add interest to the footage and showcase a place or theme from different angles.
A few simple tips
- use a sturdy tripod;
- turn off autofocus on the camera;
- select manual mode to ensure uniform illumination;
- turn on fixed white balance.
Rolstead also recommends shooting photos in JPEG format — even though RAW files have a number of advantages, they make the overall process more complicated and time consuming.
The photographer advises setting an interval to start shooting. The interval chosen will depend on the situation and the personal taste of the photographer. For example, one second is good for people, two to four seconds for clouds, and 10 to 30 seconds for night skies. In Rolsted’s short film The Seasons in Denmark: Spring, which features spring flowers in full bloom, the photographer chose 40 minutes between each photo.
For those whose cameras do not have a built-in time-lapse function, you can purchase an intervalometer and connect it to the camera to then set the desired interval. Finally, after all the photos are taken, they need to be combined into a time lapse, either using the time lapse function itself, or using programs such as Adobe Lightroom or LRTimelapse.