Time Lapse Photography Ideas

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Time lapse photography can telescope a period of time using still images.

You don't have to be a director or own a video camera to be the director of a film. Many photographers create their own mini films by using a still photography camera to capture frame after frame of the same scene. Put the frames together into a timeline and they act like a short film.

  1. Work in Progress

    • Use time lapse photography to give a different perspective of artworks in progress. Street artists and graffiti writers have used time lapse photography to document the changes that their artworks go through as the works are going up on a wall. The audience gets a look at the painting through all of its stages of application. Set up a camera on a tripod in a place that captures all of the action in one frame. Don't worry about the artists getting in between the camera and the artwork as it adds a sense of the craftsmanship that goes into the work.

    Long Term Portrait

    • Noah Kalina became famous for his series called "Everyday" in which he takes a photo portrait of himself each day. Once the project reached 400 photos, Noah put them together in chronological order to create a short film. Do the same by taking self portraits with a web cam or a stills camera that is set up to frame the portrait in the same way each day. Once put together in a time lapse film, the images will show the idiosyncratic differences that occur in a portrait from one day to the next.

    Multilens Time Lapse

    • A multi-lens camera, such as Lomography's Oktomat and Sampler cameras, replicate the time lapse effect by exposing a fraction of a frame over a burst of multiple exposures, one through each lens. The time frame is limited but as all of the images are combined on one frame, the action is concentrated. Capture a couple seconds of action, like a slam dunk, a friend swinging on a swing set, or a back flip.

    Nature in Bloom

    • Time lapse is often used in nature documentaries to indicate the passing of time at a telescoped pace so that a certain view may be seen changing between day and night or from one season to the next. Affix a macro lens to the camera and focus it on some blades of grass or a flower, both of which will start to show growth within a day. Use a telephoto lens and focus it on a mountain or valley scene and over the course of a month, you will have a mini film that documents the drama of the changing landscape and rolling clouds.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

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