Time-lapse land­scapes

New Zealand D-Photo - - CONTENTS - | Sam Deuchrass

Time-lapse films are a fan­tas­tic way to tell a story, and, with the amaz­ing imag­ing po­ten­tial of mod­ern cam­eras, daz­zling videos of in­cred­i­ble qual­ity are more ac­ces­si­ble than ever. Sam Deuchrass, whose re­cent time-lapse work in the South Is­land has at­tracted mil­lions of view­ers across the in­ter­net, shares his top tips for cre­at­ing 4K time-lapse mas­ter­pieces.

PLAN AHEAD In plan­ning an out­door time-lapse se­quence, the lo­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing. It is im­por­tant to travel to the lo­ca­tion well be­fore the shoot to get an un­der­stand­ing of the con­di­tions, the lim­i­ta­tions, and the chal­lenges that it presents. For ex­am­ple, the Nugget Point Light­house in the Catlins is in an ex­posed area that gets a lot of wind. This re­quires a heavy tri­pod and a set-up that is lower to the ground to pre­vent shak­ing. If you are plan­ning a sun­set shoot that per­forms a sim­ple left-to-right pan­ning mo­tion, you should work out the du­ra­tion of the clip you would like to achieve, the speed of the pan, the start com­po­si­tion frame, and the end com­po­si­tion frame. For a lo­ca­tion like Nugget Point, another thing to bear in mind is keep­ing the hori­zon level through­out the se­quence. The sim­ple things done cor­rectly in plan­ning a se­quence like this make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to the fi­nal prod­uct. WHAT TYPE OF CAM­ERA? I use a full-frame Nikon D800 and D810 to cap­ture any land­scape time-lapse se­quences. Three things to keep in mind are to shoot in RAW mode when pos­si­ble, con­sider the dy­namic range of the cam­era that you are us­ing, and whether the con­di­tions you are shoot­ing in are re­flec­tive of the cam­era’s abil­ity. PICK­ING YOUR GLASS My pre­ferred lens op­tion would be a fast wide-an­gle, such as a 14–24mm f/2.8 or 24mm f/1.4. This is due to the out­dooror­i­ented shots I cap­ture. Also, the as­tropho­tog­ra­phy that I in­cor­po­rate in­volves cap­tur­ing vast hori­zons wide open at f/2.8 or sim­i­lar, so it is im­por­tant to have high-qual­ity lenses that re­flect the cam­era body’s po­ten­tial. MAN­AG­ING MOVE­MENT I use Syrp mo­tion-con­trol time-lapse equip­ment that al­lows me to eas­ily add lin­ear mo­tion to time-lapse se­quences. This in­volves the use of a ‘magic car­pet’ track, a 360-mo­tion de­vice for the tri­pod, and a pan-tilt bracket, which, when used to­gether, pro­duce a unique and en­gag­ing per­spec­tive for the viewer. FIND YOUR SPOT Ide­ally, the lo­ca­tion adds depth to the shoot, with a fore­ground, midground, and back­ground. This helps the se­quence to not look flat. For ex­am­ple, the se­quence I cap­tured at the Hooker Lake at Mount Cook uti­lized the ice­berg-filled lake, the moun­tains in the dis­tance, and the rolling clouds at sun­set. This al­lowed me to cap­ture the mo­tion of the ice­bergs, the chang­ing light con­di­tions (shad­ows) on the moun­tain range, and the mo­tion of the clouds dur­ing the sun­set. HOW LONG TO SHOOT The time frame you are shoot­ing over is largely dic­tated by the frame rate of the fi­nal video, the du­ra­tion of the clip that you would like to achieve, and the ex­po­sure time for each frame.

A 10-sec­ond se­quence at 24fps (stan­dard film rate) cap­tur­ing the Milky Way at night at an ex­po­sure time of 30 sec­onds per frame leaves you with a pe­riod of 12 min­utes per sec­ond, or 120 min­utes, to cap­ture the en­tire 10-sec­ond se­quence. This be­comes more com­pli­cated once you be­gin to in­cor­po­rate mo­tion-con­trol equip­ment into the se­quence, as the gear re­quires a three- to four-sec­ond buf­fer to slightly move the cam­era be­tween each frame with­out caus­ing the image to shake. POST-PRO­CESS­ING When it comes to post-pro­cess­ing, it is im­por­tant to be con­sis­tent across all frames. Whether it’s the colour pal­ette, the light, the tones/con­trasts — if it is con­sis­tent, the fi­nal prod­uct will have a smooth feel and be more re­al­is­tic. If the time-lapse has been man­u­ally ex­po­sure-ramped dur­ing the se­quence shoot­ing, then I find soft­ware such as LRTime­lapse 4 to be a use­ful tool to help smooth out the frames. In essence, the less you have to man­u­ally change the ISO dur­ing the shoot, the eas­ier the edit­ing process will be. AU­DIO AC­COM­PA­NI­MENT Mu­sic can be a great tool to add emo­tion to a time-lapse se­quence. I pre­fer to use clas­si­cal in­stru­men­tal mu­sic to com­ple­ment the land­scapes and to time beats in the song with changes in the clips.

MIL­FORD SOUND, FIORD­LAND

NUGGET POINT, THE CATLINS

LAKE MAR­IAN, FIORD­LAND

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