Blog Archives

Removing Reflections from Nighttime Time-lapse

I find myself traveling a lot… as such I can get some pretty great views. One of my favorite shots to get is a nighttime time-lapse of the cityscape.

The key is to turn off all the lights in your room and sit in the dark.

Even still, long exposure times (which are key to the light streaks seen above) can lead to invisible blemishes coming into the shot.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use Camera Raw in Photoshop to repair the unwanted reflections.  The key is to use a brush stroke to paint in some extra adjustments.

This post sponsored by iStockphoto.


How My iPhone Saves My Time-lapse Shoots

I have an app for my iPhone and iPad that saves my bacon time after time.
I pressent to you, the essential and indispensible Sun Seeker: 3D Augmented Reality Viewer By ozPDA
You see, I often find it difficult to know exactly where the sun is going to be when shooting time-lapse.  When will it rise and even more importantly… WHERE!?!


This app does several things that let you know a lot of detail about the sun and its position.
1. You can use the GPS and magnetometer to find your location and determine sun data based on your position.
2. You can see a compass view that shows solar position, angle, and elevation for both day & night.
3. A map shows you elevation information for each hour in the day.
4. You can see details about sunrise, sunset, dusk, and twilight
5. You can compensate for time shift and enter a future date to use the app while scouting but see into the future
But the COOLEST feature is by far is the 3D Augmented reality view.  You can open the camera on your iPhone or iPad and actually see the horizon with an interactive display.  You’ll see a helpful arrow to shot you where the sun is (even if its hidden).  You also get a rich overlay which shows you where the sun is moving with times called out.  This makes it much easier to frame your shots for time-lapse as well as now where and when the sun will rise or set.
The App sells for $5.99, but is an absolute steal. This hands down makes my time-lapse shooting better as I know how to frame my shots as well as when I need to be in position.  Check out the app hereto buy or read more reviews. It is currently available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, an iPad.

Mitra 3D Mic Pro Review – Ambient Sound Improves Time-Lapse

This post originally appeared at – but since time-lapse shooters sometimes record ambient sound for use in their time-lapse productions, we thought it would be of interest to readers too. Enjoy.

NOTE: If you listen to the audio/video samples linked to from this page, please do so with headphones on. If you do not, you will not hear the difference and are wasting your time.

If you record video with your DSLR you have probably started to figure out that the audio can be as important as the video. I’ve never heard on-camera micas that sound good so it stands to reason that an external mic will be required if you want good quality audio.

I’ve tested and owned many microphones. I’ve specifically tested more than one dozen mics specifically for use with DSLRs that record video. None of them can hold a candle to the Mitra 3D Mic Pro. Yep – that’s right I said 3D.

More on that in a minute. First – let’s talk about the basics. Whether or not you are interested in truly immersive sound, you still want as good a mic as you can afford. In general, the specs I consider to be important include having multiple interfaces. In the case of the Mitra 3D Mic Pro it supports devices that have a Mic, Line or XLR input. I want phantom-powered mics and this unit not only has phantom power, but has protection against power surges. I also expect low noise, low distortion, clean sound. I also want the unit to be rugged. Again, the 3D Mic Pro meets or exceeds my expectations on all counts.

The 3D side of this unit comes from the company’s patent-pending technology. It uses an audio signal modifier SHEM, which simulates human hearing by capturing the pshychoaccoustics, and records it in any audio recorder or a video camera. Standard stereo mics can’t record 3D sound. This mic can. It sounds like a gimmick but put some headphones on and listen to the playback after you record something with this mic. You’ll hear the immersive experience. Most of you will never need to actually make a 3D movie, but there is no doubt that this technology helps make any recording sound more realistic – 3D or not.

In the accompanying clips, my pal Rich Harrington and his crew from Rhed Pixel followed me to the famed Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I had the fun job (no make that fantastic job) of driving my supercharged 2011 Corvette Grand Sport around the Super Speedway Oval while they recorded the event on video. Rich and crew used fairly high-quality on-camera mics to record the audio and then tried the Mitra 3D Mic Pro. You can hear for yourself. The difference is purely amazing. In fact, I was floored by the difference.

On Camera Mic Sample – (Again use headphones if you really care about this) Note this is over modulated and distorted and the bass is too thick. You may prefer this sound to real life, but in the kind of work I do with video, I need ACCURATE sound and this muddy rumble is cool – but not accurate.

Mitra 3D Mic Sample – (Again use headphones if you really care about this) This sample is accurate and allows you to hear what we heard on the track. The subtle sound of the supercharger (a sort of high-pitched whine) is completely gone using the on-camera mic but you can hear it if you listen carefully (particularly with headphones) in the 3D sample. The presence is more accurate and meaningful and much cleaner.

The phrase “game changer” is used to often in our industry – in fact it’s over used – but in this case, it is appropriate. I was shocked, surprised, and thrilled with the output from this mic. (I might run out of adjectives here but am still working on them.) The localization, immersive quality and clean sound you get from the 3D Mic Pro will change the way you think about audio for video forever. For those who are serious about recording video on a DSLR, and who want pro-audio, you cannot go wrong with this mic.

The one down side of this mic is its price. At just under $1000, it’s on the spendy side. But you get what you pay for. And spendy is relative. $1000 will seem high to some of you. In the pro audio world it’s not expensive at all. It’s chicken feed if it works and it does.

Very Highly Recommended.

Yes, You Can Create a Time-lapse Movie with Photoshop

Many photographers are experimenting with creating timelapse or stop motion animations with their cameras.  Yes, you can create a time-lapse movie with photoshop as long as you have the Extended version.

To do this kind of work, the camera is typically placed on a secure tripod and a series of still photos is taken with their camera of a scene.  Typically teh photos are taken at regular intervals.

  1. Organize your frames. You’ll need between 12 and 30 images for each second of animation, so chances are you’ll have a lot of source material.  Make sure all the images are in one folder and that they are named sequentially. If needed, you can use the Batch Rename command in Adobe Bridge to fix any naming issues.  Files should be named similar to frame001, frame002, frame003, and so on.
  2. Open your animation. When you’re ready, it’s time to open the image sequence in Photoshop.  Choose File > Open and navigate to your folder that contains the image sequence files.
  3. Import a sequence. Select only  the first frame of animation (selecting more than one frame will disable the animation).  Make sure the Image Sequence option is checked.  Click Open to import the sequenced frames.
  4. What speed?The next dialog box asks you to specify a frame rate.  All of the standard video frame rates are offered.  Check with your video editing software to determine which rate you need for a particular project.
  5. Check playback. You can use the Animation panel to check your animated movie.  When satisfied, you can choose File > Export > Render Video.

Using Multiple Cameras For Time-lapse Photography

I see a lot of folks try to flip cameras as they go from one model to another. I know for many, the economic realty is a need to trade-in or re-sell gear in order to upgrade. The truth however is that the amount you’ll see for used gear may not be worth as much as you’d hope. I subscribe to the belief of putting the gear to work.

When it comes to shooting time-lapse, a second camera body (or even a third) can really come in handy.

  • A second body can be set to a different ISO or aperture when shooting tough exposures (like sunrise or sunset)
  • You can shoot different focal lengths on each body to create dramatically different shots. You can get your master shot and some additional angles all at once.
  • A spare body can be especially useful if you are shooting content that requires simultaneous coverage like an event or live process, such as at a construction site.
  • Shoot raw on one camera and JPEG on the other.
  • You can shoot at different intervals to produce different looking footage
Chances are you have at least a few lenses in your bag… put them into use on that next shoot.