Over the past twelve months Tony has combined his love of landscape and skies with the art of time-lapse photography. He became a self-confessed anorak geek when he joined The Cloud Appreciation Society and saw a time-lapse movie entitled "El Cielo de Canarias" (Canary Skies - Tenerife) which featured on their website. During the evening he took the group through: how to set up the camera, the software used in post production to create the videos, and finished by showcasing some of his early and most recent creations.
Tony explained how by taking a series of photographs (or frames) you can combine them to make a video, which has the effect of speeding up time. For example, taking 1 shot every 2 seconds, with a frame-rate of 30fps means you require 300 shots over a 10 minute period to create a 10 second video. He then went on to explain how you can use an intervalometer to control how often, how long and how many shots your camera should take. Whilst some cameras have built-in intervalometer's others do not, and in this instance you can use an external intervalometer which connects to your camera. Most recently he has been experimenting with tethering software called ControlMyNikon, which amongst many other things allows you to create a series of time-lapse shots by controlling your camera remotely via a PC connection. Using this software you can adjust virtually any of your camera's configurable parameters such as white-balance, ISO, focus, etc whilst viewing your camera's Live View on the PC. The same piece of software is also available for Canon users but called ControlMyCanon. Other software discussed was CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) Pictures to EXE and Quicktime as an option for processing MP4 videos if you don't have access to Lightroom.
Next Tony demonstrated how by using the software LR Timelapse together with Lightroom you can create your videos. In summary, you import your photos into LR Time-lapse, which uses the Exif information to create meta-data for each image, this can be observed graphically on screen as it draws a blue line representing the exposure across time. At this point you define the first and last images as key frames and export the resultant meta-data. Switching into Lightroom you import the meta-data from LR Timelapse, which highlights your two key frame images. You can use the development module on these two images to define how you want the images to look like i.e. exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, etc. You can even use the crop and rotation tools to define the aspect ration and add movement between the two key frames. Once that's done, you export the meta-data and switch back into LR Timelapse, re-import the updated meta-data for the key frames and use the 'Auto Transitions' and 'Deflicker' commands to automatically update the meta-data between the key frames producing smooth and flicker-free transitions. On completion you can save the results, re-import into Lightroom and create your videos using the Lightroom or LR Timelapse video presets.
Tony also talked about Panolapse which is a software application that allows you to generate time-lapse images through 360 degrees using perspective correction to rotate the camera through the scene. It's early days yet and he will be spending more time with this, but it appears to have lots of potential, looking forward to seeing the results.
Towards the end of the session we got to view some of the movies Tony has created over the last twelve months, including some of his early work, which he used to highlight some of the issues you may get with time-lapse such as changes in light and exposure which results in flicker or exposure problems on the video. There were some absolutely fab movies of St Mary's Lighthouse, Lindisfarne, Big Water, Northumberlandia and Dunstanburgh Castle.
The hardware Tony uses are the Nikon D600, and D7000, a bargain basement second hand Canon IXUS 95S and a Canon Powershot G12, which was bought to save the shutters on the DSLRs. In addition to that are various tripods and camera mounts required to fix and stabilize the camera. He is currently considering buying second hand DSLRs in order to save excessive wear and tear on the shutters on the D600 and D7000 but also to give more control than is possible with the digital compacts.