Earlier in the week, when the weather here was nice and warmer, I hastily decided to try my hand at a sunset time-lapse with Horo and Alice. And while I generally feel I failed to achieve what I intended, I learned a bunch about the process.
I knew from the start I wanted to get some sunset photos, so I set off to a location I’d been last year that faced the right direction and seemed like would be a good place for such a thing. Here, approximately where I found the Geodetic Survey Benchmark last year.
However upon arriving at the location a spur of the moment change of creative thought I decided I was going to do a time-lapse instead. This is what proved to be my downfall ultimately. I didn’t consider what the outcome of the time-lapse was going to be, how long I wanted it to be, how smooth, how many frames per second was it going to be, what obstacles might I encounter, etc… So this meant I picked a random shutter speed, I picked a random delay on the timer, I picked a random amount of time to capture, I didn’t consider how the wind was going to bob Alice all around, I adjusted the shutter speed midway randomly to compensate for the reduced amount of light, and I left too early. I now know to factor all these in, and while I already knew most of that, I now know what the out come is if I don’t control for them and think about them ahead of time.
While I’d already done time-lapses in the past, this was my first time using a piece of software called LRTimelapse. I’d wanted to use it for years now I think, I remember hearing about it somewhere when it was still just version 1 and free. Now the software is up to version 3 and the author is charging, and rightfully so, but way too much for it in my opinion. It costs as much or more than Lightroom itself! But the free version does offer some reasonable limitations for my use and so that’s what I used.
The software itself is quite easy to use and the author provides some tutorials on the website which I used to help me along. They could use some streamlining however as they’re quite long and he rambles a bit, otherwise well done and useful. Most of what LRTimelapse does is automated, the basic workflow is eight steps. First you initialize the photos, all this means is that LRTimelapse creates XMP-sidecar files with some presets. The XMP-sidecar files will be used to transfer information back and forth between LRTimelapse and Lightroom. It’s a rather clever hack that makes use of star ratings and/or colours for use with keyframes and such. Additionally it’s these that any changes you make to the keyframe photos in Lightroom, LRTimelapse will use to do all the in between work for you.
The next step is a Keyframe wizard that does a good job at guessing where keyframes should be set. You can of course adjust them however you choose but being pretty good at guessing and automated is a nice start. Step three is just saving the keyframe data to the XMP files. Step four is reloading the XMP-sidecar files in Lightroom, editing the keyframes, and saving those changes to the XMP-sidecar files. Step five it’s back to LRTimelapse to reload the changes to the keyframes from Lightroom back into LRTimelapse. Step six is another automated step where LRTimelapse takes the keyframe data and transitions it across the remaining photos. Step seven is another save XMP-sidecar data step. And the last step is rendering, which actually occurs in LRTimelapse, but you first need to export the photos from Lightroom. LRtimelapse offers a simple wizard for both the export from Lightroom and the rendering. There aren’t a lot of choices so those interested in tweaking things more might look elsewhere for the last step.
However thanks to a decision I’d made during my set, adjusting the shutter speed midway, I needed to use use what’s referred to as the “Holy Grail Workflow”. It’s called this because capturing day to night/night to day time-lapses is known as the ‘holy grail’ and this workflow is for that type of time-lapse. Being able to capture transitions in lighting that massive requires many adjustments to be made on the camera as the lighting changes. This workflow has twelve steps, but is still fairly automated and easy to use. In either case, if you intend to use the software I recommend you spend the near 45 minutes watching both the basic tutorial and then the holy grail tutorial. I’ll probably check out his deflicker tutorial as well to see if that’ll help at all with my GoPro Hero’s flickering issue when taking time-lapses with it. Anyway, the Holy Grail Workflow required I do some extra steps to smooth out the shutter speed induced changes in light and I think it worked rather well. Can you tell where I changed the shutter? Hint, it’s not when the camera gets bumped. That was just me being stupid and using it as a resting spot for my smartphone while I tried to get an HDR photo with it, forgetting that I was in the middle of something already.
So at the end of the day I still have a semi-poor attempt at day to night time-lapse that’s far shorter than I intended, but I learned a lot! While there though I did take this photo of Horo that I really quite like.
PS: If you can guess the background behind LRTimelapse in that screenshot, I’ll give you a cookie. Prize will not be awarded to anyone whom I know actually already knows.