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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 15
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Time Is Lapsing - Intervalometer
Tuesday 9 August 2011   —   Category: Equipment
Recently I added this Timer Remote Shutter Release for SONY A300 A350 RM-S1AM to my camera kit. Also known as an intervalometer, it allows me to automatically take any number of photos, leaving the shutter open for as long as I want, with a set interval between shots. This is a necessary piece of equipment in order to do time-lapse photography.

For my first attempt, I set up my Sony Alpha α55 camera outside on a tripod, pointing west at the neighbor’s towering trees. I set my 24-​70​mm lens to its widest angle, focused manually, and left it on auto exposure (because the lighting conditions were going to be changing throughout the day). Now to set up the intervalometer.

Because I was doing daylight photography, and not night photography, I didn’t program the length of time the shutter would remain open. But I did set it up to take an unlimited number of pictures (until I stopped it), at 2 minute intervals. Once I pressed the start button, every two minutes the intervalometer caused my camera to snap a photo, from 9:30 AM until 9:20 PM. Cool!

Well, almost! I encountered only one major problem during this experiment. After about 40 minutes, my fully-charged camera battery was totally empty! Gosh! I didn’t discover this fact until 45 minutes had passed with no photos taken! Double gosh! It was then that I realized that the battery had drained so quickly because I had left on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. So I quickly changed the battery, made sure the LCD screen was turned off, and from that point on I kept an eye on the battery level, putting in a fresh battery occasionally throughout the day. The batteries definitely lasted a LOT longer with the screen off!

Once I was finished taking pictures, I loaded all 332 photos into my Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software. Premiere has the ability to import a series of still images as a piece of video footage. But because I had deleted three photos (there were originally 335) because someone had walked in front of the camera just as it was taking a photo, there were three gaps in the file names of the series, which threw Premiere for a loop. Therefore, I had to import the series of stills in four different chunks, and then put the four pieces of footage together on the timeline.

Because my photos are 4912 x 3264 pixels, and my output video size is 1920 x 1080, I had to scale down the video clips to 39% (1920 divided by 4912), so that the image would not be cropped. But because the aspect ratio of my photos is 3:2, while the aspect ratio of HD video is 16:9, there was some cropping of the top and bottom of the video in order to have the full 1920 pixel width.

With a normal video playback rate of 30 frames per second, I found out that my 332 photos, when turned in to a video, lasted only 11.07 seconds — kinda on the fast side. You gotta look quick if you want to see it all! Therefore I changed the playback speed to 50%, so that the new duration was 22.14 seconds — definitely much better. Now I realize that taking a photo every two minutes was too long of an interval, because I needed more images to make the 30 frames per second. Next time, I will take the photos 45 to 60 seconds apart. In reality, the settings will vary from project to project, depending on what I’m trying to achieve.

Next I browsed through my music collection to find something suitable to accompany the images. After some trial and error, I finally settled on Beethoven’s “The Ruins of Athens” Incidental Music, Op. 113: IV. Turkish March.

Finally, my time-lapse video was finished, so I output a full 1920 x 1080 version for the television, and a lower resolution version for the Web, which you can watch below.

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For future time-lapse projects, I’m purchasing a Sony ACPW20 AC Adaptor, so I can run my camera all day on AC power rather than on batteries.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 15
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 15
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