Isn’t it exciting - to capture the movement of clouds across the sky or the hustle and bustle of a vibrant city, awakening and falling asleep in some 30 seconds?

With time-lapse photography, you can capture so many exciting events throughout the day - read on to discover how to shoot time-lapse in 6 steps and what equipment you need!

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Alessi Heitman-Rice

Timelapse Photography 101: A Complete Guide to Get You Started by Alessi

Have you been wondering how to make timelapse photography? Don't worry because we're here to help you to get through the process together with Alessi 🤩






What is timelapse photography?




Tips & tricks


Biggest mistakes


Timelapse production


Timelapse pre-production






Meet Alessi


What you’ll learn

Always shoot in manual and RAW.

Charge the batteries & use manual lenses.

Plan your shoot and scout the location before (and don't forget about the weather).

As tempting as it might be, don't touch the camera during the shoot.

What is time-lapse photography

Time-lapse photography is the art of taking sequential photos over some time and combining them into a video of a few minutes in length.

Time-lapse photography allows you to see a slowly changing scene faster.

This photography type has gained popularity over recent years, making some creators specialize in time-lapse photography and videography.

Time-lapse photography definition

What is time-lapse photography used for?

  • to create the illusion of high-speed movement
  • to capture slow processes, like natural phenomena, that generally wouldn’t be very visible
  • to depict rapid change over long periods

How does time-lapse photography work?

Photographers capture a series of images with their cameras in intervals and then convert the sequence into a video using a video editing program.

How to shoot time-lapse photography in 6 steps

How to shoot time-lapse photography

1. Set up your equipment

Get your cameras and your lens ready - with time-lapse photography, there are no strict rules on the gear type.

Any camera will do as long as you can shoot with Manual mode. The same applies to the lens; anything from 14mm up to 200mm will be a good choice.

2. Consider your frame rate

Most modern films are shot at a frame rate of 24fps, which gives the footage a natural look.

Keeping in mind that 24-25 shots are equal to a second of a video, you will need to capture around 500 images for a 20-second video.

Don’t forget to consider the interval between each frame; see how quickly subjects are moving in the scene.

3. Put your camera in manual mode

Putting your camera on Manual will save you the automatic exposure changes that your camera will otherwise do if set to Auto, as well as the unwanted flickering that you risk in Aperture priority.

time-lapse photography guide

4. Use a fast shutter speed

Setting a fast shutter speed will make your footage look smoother and add a bit of motion blur.

Try a shutter speed of 1/50 seconds - this is the standard setting for a cinematic look.

5. Set very low ISO values

Your ISO setting will depend on your lighting situation.

However, low ISO is better for time-lapse photography as it reduces noise and grain.

6. Avoid flickering with a suitable aperture

Flickering appears when you allow your camera to adjust the exposure automatically, significantly when the lighting situations change - like sunrise and sunset.

The sharp change in exposure from one frame to another can be avoided if you shoot in manual mode.

Needed gear for time-lapse photography

Time-lapse photography gear

A DSLR or mirrorless camera

Although we already said that generally, any camera would do its job for time-lapse photography (even a smartphone!), the most straightforward cameras to work within this type of photography are DSLRs or mirrorless.

Some will even have an in-built intervalometer (read about its importance below), which means you’ll need less equipment to capture fantastic images.

A tripod

Time-lapse shots require your camera to be put in s table position for several hours.

A tripod is a reliable way to stabilize your camera and ensure it doesn’t move between frames. Any occasional movement will slightly distort the final video.

An intervalometer

This handy tool allows you to capture extended time lapses and keep the exposure spaced evenly across all your photo sequences.

Having an intervalometer means you won’t have to take the pics yourself every several seconds - instead, you can set the tool to capture images at a specific interval.

Time-lapse photography equipment

Neutral-density filter

ND filters reduce the amount of light that comes through the lens without affecting the color temperature.

For time-lapse photography, an ND filter isn’t a must but an excellent addition to your kit, as it helps gain more flexibility with the shutter speed and exposure.

High-capacity memory cards

You will capture many images for a time-lapse video, and your camera’s buffer must process each shot before moving on to the next quickly.

Hence, several high-capacity memory cards are essential - anything above 32GB with a write speed of 50MB/s would be a good choice.

Spare batteries

After several hours of shooting, your camera batteries will drain quickly.

Using a battery grip on the camera is an efficient way to use two batteries simultaneously and provide your gear with the power it needs.

Up next: Learn the photography fundamentals

Grab your camera and all the needed gear, and head out to try out time-lapse photography!

We hope this article pinpointed the essential tips for time-lapse shooting.

Honing your skills is easier with our complete guide to photography - all the whys and hows are there for you to explore.

What is time lapse photography?

Time-lapse photography is the art of taking sequential photos over a period of time and combining them into a video of a few minutes in length.

How to do time lapse photography?

Photographers capture a series of images with their cameras in intervals and then convert the sequence into a video using a video editing program.

What is time lapse photography used for?

Time-lapse photography is used to create the illusion of high-speed movement, to capture slow processes, like natural phenomena, that normally wouldn’t be very visible, and to depict rapid change over long periods of time.

Can my phone do time lapse photography?

Yes, time-lapse photography can be done both with digital cameras and smartphones.

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