Three Common Time-Lapse Photography Problems

While time-lapse photography has gotten easier over the years, mainly thanks to dramatic improvements in equipment, there are a few problems that still seem to result in poor time-lapse performance every time. Try to avoid these.

1. Extreme temperature changes

If you are shooting in extreme heat or cold it can negatively impact your time-lapse shooting. Extreme heat can cause the sensor to overheat which increased digital noise. In extreme cold, your battery may fail and not last long enough to power the whole time-lapse.

2. Flicker – not the photo sharing site

The most common problem with time-lapse photography is image flicker. Slight variations in light or exposure can cause fluctuations that lead to flicker. There are many ways to cure this, including software plugins such as GBTimelapse, (http://www.gbtimelapse.com/Default.aspx) but without spending extra money try this. Use a slower shutter speed; stop down; avoid scenes that feature fluorescent lights, and avoid clipping.

3. Exposure problems

Usually photographers who rely on automatic settings for their exposures experience noticeable exposure fluctuations that reduce the quality of their time-lapse work. Use manual exposure for the best results.

There are other problems you might encounter when doing time-lapse photography but these are the most likely culprits. Hopefully this post will help you beat them the next time you go out shooting.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Professional photographer. Author. Speaker.

Posted on August 29, 2011, in Time-lapse and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Great information. I have a question about Exposure problems. I understand the use of manual settings to account for changes in exposure. The issue I have is how do you handle the change in exposure over a transition from day to night or vise versa? Do you make incrimental changes to the shutter speed over time?

  2. Personally I love some of the flicker that happens in time lapse. If it was perfectly smooth and looked like a real take all the time, it would take out some of the novelty of certain uses of time lapse where you want it to look and feel different than real time shooting.

    • Of course – in that case no need to correct 🙂 There are people who like blurry images, out of focus images, blown out images, images that are too dark, etc. – We write what most consider best practices and then your mileage may vary.

  3. I have a question about manual exposure. so what do you do take a light reading every five minutes, ten minutes 30 minutes? which is best and how can you tell when shooting the milky way? do you just guess?

    Thanks

    Ron Garcia

  4. I appreciate you for sharing this great information with us. The three points were very good and it needs to be followed in order to get a good time-lapse picture. It is quite interesting to see the time-lapse pictures they are very good. I like the nature time lapse or the blooming flowers a lot. Yea, I agree with you that to get the best result it is good to use manual exposure. I never rely on automatic setting for exposure.

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