The second thing I wanted to test on the Canon EOS 6D is to make a time lapse video.

A time lapse video is made by still photographs. The definition of time lapse photography on Wikipedia explains,  “Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing.” The normal movie is played at 24 frames per second.  If many still images are made at every 3 seconds, when played normally in 24 frames per second, the image will appear to run faster.

When I was reading some reviews and user manual of the Canon EOS 6D, I ended up finding some interesting online guides on making time lapse video by using the Canon 5D Mark III. If you visit this Canon Digital Learning Center link, you can learn some basics time lapse video making skills from Vincent Laforet.  I was not a big fan of video in the past but now playing with the still images and converting them into time lapse video is truly fascinating.  These four episodes are not long, but very informative and sufficient to give you a kick start. I have applied the tips from Vincent Laforet on using my Canon EOS 6D and see if this works.  I started to make a time lapse video at my backyard.

To start with, you have to forget all the automatic settings of your camera and set things up as follows:

  • Set everything in manual: exposure, focus and white balance (for example, sunlight in this case)
  • Disable image stablising function on your lens
  • Shoot in RAW format to enable better control in image quality
  • Set mirror lockup to avoid camera shake

Of course you need the following accessories:

  • mounted on a tripod
  • connected with a timer remote controller (Canon TC-80N3)
  • ND filter (if the contrast between light and shadow is too high)

The next thing you need to think about how long the video is.  Don’t forget the movie is played normally 24 frame in a second. Making a 10 second video will need to take 240 still images in a row. If you set up your time remote controller to take one image every three seconds, you have to take 12 minutes totally at least. It is in fact much better to record more images to search the best time lapse moments.  For example if you capture the movement of the moving white clouds, you may need longer time in order to select the best session. Finally I have captured 407 images in making this demonstration.

I used the Adobe Lightroom to process (such as adjusting highlight, shadow, increasing the clarity and saturation) one image and use Sync Settings to apply all these changes to other images. This took simply just a few seconds and all images were finally modified. Next I exported them out to JPEG files at the best quality with the pixel dimensions of 1920×1280 at a resolution of 72 dpi.  This took longer.

To process the time lapse video, I did not follow Vincent Laforet’s recommendation of using QuickTime Player Pro (Perhaps it is simpler). Instead I used the Adobe Premiere Pro (CS6).  I followed the online video guide from this YouTube video and successfully produced a decent time lapse video. If you can use some background music to enhance the effect like mine, that will be fantastic.

Time lapse demonstration video from Wing Yiu on Vimeo.

So that was quite a challenge. The learning path for something new is never easy.  However, I have discovered there is a great potential in creativity and I would recommend you to try it out for yourself.

Featured image: Flowers in spring. Summicron-M 50 mm, ISO160, f/8.0, 1/45sec

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