Hey, years ago, at one of my first Bootcamps, Craig Strong - inventor of the Lensbaby, came to the workshop and shared his wedding time lapse movies. We all loved them and I started to play with them at my weddings too. Tomorrow, I'm shooting a fun wedding and I'll make a time lapse movie and post it back here so you can see what the result looks like. Craig gets so many folks asking about the best way to do the time lapse, what camera to use, etc. So he generously posted this info to our Bootcampers Facebook page. I've re-posted it here for others to use if you're interested in trying it as well. Thanks Craig!
What I do to make the best time lapse event photography (by Craig Strong):
Choose a Nikon camera with interval timer mode (every other brand I have tried has a very small limit on the number of images they will take before they need to be restarted, Nikon cameras have a limit of 1800 images, much more than needed for a wedding, before you have to restart the process).
I have used the 3700 and p5000 and they are good but discontinued. The Nikon P80, based on the manual I downloaded (http://support.nikontech.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14558) is the best one on the market that looks like it will fit the bill for time lapse and has a wide angle lens (27mm). No idea on battery life though it uses the same battery as the 3700 and p5000 which I can get ~6.5 hours out of on a full battery shooting one per minute, ~3.5 hours at one every 30 seconds.
- Manual white balance, does not need to be custom, you can change that later, just don't use auto white balance.
- Flash off.
- Program mode.
- Center weighted metering or matrix metering, not spot metering.
- Underexpose your jpegs slightly (as always with jpegs), you can adjust them brighter in Lightroom but not darker.
- Use a low ISO, compare the ISOs on the camera you use at the size you will be shooting to see what is the highest ISO before the image gets grainy or soft. I generally shoot at 100 or 200 iso and let the shutter speed be as slow as it needs to be.
- Let the camera pick the focus point OR, even better, switch to Manual Focus mode (P80 has a Manual Focus mode, 3700, P5000, P5100 don't) and choose your focus distance (page 36 in the P80 manual).
- 1024x768 will be plenty unless they are planning on making HD presentations at 1080x1920 in which case they should shoot at 2048x1536. Shooting smaller than 1024x768 introduces a lot of jpeg artifacts on the Nikon cameras I use for time lapse.
- A 2mb card will work fine at 1024x768, get a 4mb or bigger if you are shooting 2048x1536.
- Joby Gorillapod is a good option though the joints can get loose on the small Gorillapod and the P80 looks like it might be a bit heavier than the P5000 so just make sure that it is a secure tripod for the amount of weight that you have on it.
Get your camera up high, I have used balcony railings, sconces (that are turned off), exit signs, trim above a doorway, window ledges. You probably won't be able to look at the back of the camera to get perfect framing so try a couple test shots with the camera at different angles in its final location before you make an educated guess on where the camera should be pointing.
Dealcam is a good source for finding good deals on cameras.
So the wedding was absolutely great! The bride, Alli, is a local florist who owns Lemon Halo. We've done many weddings with her and she is a joy to work with. Mint did the coordination, again vendors that we absolutely love working with because they make our jobs so easy! Of course, the wedding wouldn't have been the same without the beautiful work of Aimee at French Lil design! She did much more than the invitations...oh, the end of the time lapse shows the AMAZING dessert table created by Blue Sparrow Bakery. All I can say about that is, WOW.
I'll post some photos from the wedding in a couple days, but here's the time lapse. As an update to Craig's great info, I also contribute my $00.02.
- If you put a camera on a tripod somewhere, make sure to tape a sign to it, "Please do not move or touch!". Someone bumped my tripod during the night and changed the point of view.
- When you mount the camera to the tripod or gorilla pod, make sure you can change the battery without having to remove the camera - otherwise it will rarely return to the exact same position. You'll generally need 2 or 3 battery changes during the event. It's a good idea to determine how long you plan to run the camera and divide that time by the number of batteries and just change them at the proper interval. Don't wait for it to die cause you may not know when it will happen!
- On cameras with a viewfinder and an LCD, you can save precious battery power by turning off the LCD. Otherwise, it will fire up the LCD everytime it takes a shot. It will shut off again, but that's quite a bit of energy you can save by not having it come up at all.
- Bring a little pocket mirror to check the image on the screen when you take your test shot. Generally the camera will be positioned up in a corner or high where it's difficult to see what the composition looks like. Memorize the position of the screen turn off button so you can reach up and disable it after the test shot.
I used the Nikon P80 for the overall room shot and the old Nikon 3700 for the dessert table shot. I really like the P80 for it's better image quality and the 27mm wide lens - essential for time lapse. I have a generic wide angle adapter that goes on any P&S camera (from B&H here) and I used to use that on my 3700 before I got the P80. Be sure to read Craig's follow up comments to this post too for other mounting tips.
Lastly, you'll need to put the many images together as a short movie. I use a really cool and cheap program called TalaPhoto to make the Quicktime .mov file. Load all the images, set the transition time to 0 and the slide duration to .01 or .02 seconds. I used .01 for the first movie and .02 for the dessert table. When you save the movie, you may need to convert it to an .MP4 format for the web. I use Quicktime Pro, but other options are readily available.