The chances are high that you’ve at some point seen a day-to-night timelapse and wondered how it’s done. How is the photographer able to seamlessly capture a series of images as the light changes without this causing flickering in the final video? How do you adjust the settings as the sun goes down?
All these questions (and more) are answered in this video by landscape and astrophotographer Matthew Saville made for Nature TTL where he takes you step-by-step through the process of capturing a time-lapse starting before sunset and continues as the Milky Way appears.
The first question, Matthew says, is whether to choose an Automatic mode or Manual Mode. A semi-automatic mode such as Aperture Mode does do a decent job during sunset but most cameras fail at about 30-40 mins later – which means you’re better off using Manual Mode.
Preparing the Time-Lapse
Before we even get started with the timelapse, there are a few things you need to plan and consider, especially if you’re doing a day-to-night timelapse where the Milky Way (or moon) is involved.
I recommend using an app such as PhotoPills to see where the Milky Way/sun/moon will be at all times in order to create a better timelapse or images in general.
Capturing the Day-to-Night Timelapse
In the video, Matthew talks about the different gear you’ll need to capture the timelapse and perhaps the most important one is an external battery that allows you to continuously shoot for 4,5 or even more hours without changing batteries.
After mounting your camera on the tripod and connecting all cables, you’ll need to figure out how long the intervals are (i.e. how much time between the start of each exposure). Since the shutter speed is eventually going to be about 30 seconds long, you need to set the intervals to be slightly longer than this.
The last step is now to finalize your composition and initial settings. Once the timelapse has started, come back to it every 5-or-so minutes and check the histogram. Most likely, you’ll have to increase the shutter speed by approximately one stop.
Processing the Timelapse
When the timelapse is finished and all the images have been captured, Matthew takes you back to the studio and shows you how to process it.
The first problem you’ll see is that each image is getting darker until the point where you increased the shutter speed – it’s not really impressive, is it? Don’t worry! This is actually not too hard to fix if you’re using LRTimelapse. Matthew makes it easy to understand and shows you exactly how to get rid of the so-called flickering.