Today’s blog focuses on time-lapse photography and we’ll also introduce you to Gunther Wegner, a true time-lapse expert.
If you already started digging deeper into time-lapse photography you might have come across Gunther Wegner. A German photographer, Gunther started taking pictures as a child. Through his interest in photography, his passion for travels as well as the fascination of time-lapse he became one of the leading experts, even though he never studied photography.
When Gunther began looking into the subject of time-lapse photography in 2009, he noticed that there was very little information available about this topic. Also, there was no software that would create a video from single images taken with a DSLR and at the same time fulfill his photographic needs. Of course, there was software that would merge single frames to a short video, but as a photographer Gunther was looking for more, i.e. a product that would offer almost the same image editing options for RAW files as RAW converters do. When looking at time-lapse photography, one notices that oftentimes weather and lighting conditions change during a photography session, which doesn’t allow for the same kind of image enhancements and corrections to be applied to every image of a sequence. Also, Gunther was searching for a product that would be able to leverage the whole dynamic range and sensor quality of a DSLR. Obviously, almost every video camera offers a time-lapse functionality, but the quality is not even close to that of a photo camera.
As Gunther has a degree in business informatics and IT project management, he invested his spare time, did a lot of research and tried many different things – and finally launched his own software for time-lapse editing, key framing, grading and rendering. His software, called LRTimelapse, is available for download in version 4 already and is being used by hobbyists as well as professional photographers all around the world. He offers the software free of charge, so everybody can get started with editing up to 400 images for a time-lapse sequence of up to 12/13 seconds. Only longer time-lapses or a commercial usage require the purchase of a license. His software, LRTimelapse is already quite successful and emphasizes his time-lapse competence – 50,000 users installed his software, just during the last two months.
This was the main reason for Gunther to start off his own business – today he makes a living from selling his software and providing an eBook about time-lapse photography http://lrtimelapse.com/shop/, and he likes to share his knowledge through workshops and organized photo-related travels.
His website and forum http://lrtimelapse.com offer lots of detailed information about photography in general and time-lapse photography in particular.
Here is an interview Gunther gave to the Video Film TV Makers Magazine after a lecture in Prague about time-lapse photography and his software:
You can also take a look at time-lapses Gunther produced from all around the world, for example “Northern Skies“ http://gwegner.de/blog/northern-skies-4k/ , “African Skies 2“ http://vimeo.com/gwegner/africanskies2 or impressions from Chile and Bolivia http://vimeo.com/gwegner/altiplanoskies.
Gunther even started a time-lapse photography contest that is taking place for the fourth time this year. The contest offers a platform for young photographers and videographers and it motivates them to look into this subject. The goal is to tell a time-lapse story in 90 seconds only and this years’ topic is “The four seasons“. Time-lapses can be entered until the end of April and the best films will be awarded great prizes. Datacolor is one of the sponsors. On May 20th, the nominated films will be shown on screen at a cinema in Hamburg, Germany and the winners will be announced.
How to get started with time-lapse photography
You don’t need a lot of equipment – it’s really easy to get started with time-lapse photography yourself. Most photographers already have all the stuff that is required: Camera and lens, intervalometer (or the built-in timer of the camera) and a tripod.
Start off by choosing a subject and contemplate how it is going to change during the course of time (well, maybe within the next 30 minutes would be a good starting point). Begin with objects that don’t move like buildings, landscapes or sculptures in front of the ever-changing sky (moving clouds for example) or choose a scene that includes moving cars or boats – it’s the contrast of standstill and motion you’re looking for.
Once the camera is mounted on the tripod, switch it to manual metering in order to keep it from automatically changing the exposure (which can already happen because of changing light & shadows). Also switch off the autofocus of your camera and focus manually. Choose an exposure time that is shorter than the interval in between the images. Your ISO should be as low as possible but as high as necessary – please also remember to switch off your camera’s ISO automation.
If your intention is to show your time-lapse at 30 frames per second (fps) you already need 150 images for only 5 seconds of film. If your interval in between the images is 5 seconds you’ll need about 12 minutes to capture the photos you require.
In order to merge your photos to an animated time-lapse and to edit your images, why not try out Gunther’s software LRTimelapse which is available for download free of charge: http://lrtimelapse.com/download/.
These video tutorials explain how to edit your first time-lapse with LRTimelapse: http://lrtimelapse.com/tutorial/
If you would like to find out more about time-lapse photography and you get hooked after seeing your first results, you might be looking for a perfect intervalometer shortly. That’s what happened to Gunther as well. He noticed that most interval timers on the market didn’t meet his needs for time-lapse photography. Most of them are a bit too slow as you need short intervals of for example 3 seconds in order to create smooth time-lapse transitions. But most of the intervalometers available for purchase trigger an autofocus signal to the camera which needs 1-3 seconds to be transmitted, a function you don’t need for time-lapse photography as you can focus manually. Other features that Gunther was looking for were an image counter or information about when the image sequence started.
Being a developer himself, he invented his own solution, the LRTimelapse Pro-Timer. The open source project is available from his website free of charge. The software and the blueprint, a list of parts and files for 3D printing are available for download at http://lrtimelapse.com/lrtimelapse-pro-timer-free/.
Create something beautiful and do something good
We think time-lapse photography is an extremely fascinating subject as it lets us see the world with different eyes. The ever-changing landscape can be captivating, shocking or inspiring and Gunther’s time-lapse movies are very inspiring. He even uses his creations to do something good. For example, if you purchase a better quality download of his time-lapse “African Skies 2” you support animal protection in Africa.
That’s definitely worth a “thumbs up” from the Datacolor Team!