Time lapse 1: Snails

Time-lapse movies are actually photos taken at a relatively slow pace (for example, one photo per minute or one photo per second) and assembled into one long sequence displayed as a video movie. What is slow will appear fast.

Interestingly, it can be done by nearly anybody with:

  • A good camera
  • A tripod
  • Some patience or a timer

Remember that you can easily do it with your own camera (not even an SLR camera), that you should use the following settings to have the best possible result:

  • Manual focus
  • Manual exposure (set diaphragm aperture and shutter speed)
  • Fixed white-balance

One example from PlayingWithTime is shown here:

QuickTime™ 5 is required to view this movie. Click here to download the plug-in.

So, you too can have fun and show us your work.






4 responses to “Time lapse 1: Snails”

  1. Ted Avatar

    I’m not sure to understand the manual focus requirement. Don’t you want your snail to be in focus along the whole path across the field ? Fixed white balance and exposure are okay to avoid flickering.

  2. Yves Roumazeilles Avatar

    Autofocus is OK if you are sure that the focus will not jump from one image to the next. But it is usually very difficult to ensure. And at high spped its very unpleasant.

    When the snail is moving from the bottom to the top, it must be tracked all the way without having images where the AF chooses the background to be more interesting. Since the AF has several sensors, uses a lot of intelligence to decide what is good and what is not. You may change focus shaprly from one image to the next and then get a snail focused, not-focused, focused-again at high speed. Nauseating…

    It is easier to set a fixed focus and a close aperture (for large Depth-of-Field), or track the snail with very small manual increments.

    Actually, a slow-moving subject like that is probably as difficult (or more) to track than a fast moving one. But some subjects (we’ll see some of them in the rest of the post series) are easier than others.

  3. Ted Avatar

    Okay, I got your point. Manual focus + close aperture is the way to go when the subject moves around at roughly the same distance. I guess autofocus performs better if the subject moves along the optical axis, e.g. if the snail is angry and charging the photographer.

  4. Yves Roumazeilles Avatar

    If the snail is really angry, the video will be great but don’t get too entangled in the passion of the moment and remember to move out its trajectory at the last second (or is it the last minute?)