A Lesson Learned in Time Lapse Photography

I’m here to give you a lesson in time lapse photography, because I learned the hard way, and you shouldn’t have to!

Friday of last week I had a great opportunity to get an amazing time lapse of big pillow like clouds flowing behind Omanovac Resort in Pakrac, Croatia. Instead what I was left with was a glitchy mess. What happened was I setup my camera, adjusted the lens filters, set the focus, set the timer and walked away. For reference, I’m using a Nikon D5100 camera. Its a good entry level DSLR which has given me years of great photographs. Lately I’ve been getting into the time lapse aspects of the camera.

Anyway, so I set the camera all up and walked away for 90 minutes. What I forgot to do was set the camera on manual focus. So, every time it took a photo it judged the scene, focused automatically and then took the photo. This was fine for about the first 25 minutes, but then the lighting in the shot changed and the focal point that was set was the clouds just up and to the left of the building you will see in the video below. As the clouds got darker it got harder for the camera to focus. When I went back to check on the camera, about 3/4 of the way through the entire shoot, I could hear it trying to focus, over and over again.

Initially the camera was set to take a photo every 10 seconds, but because of the auto focus problems there are big lags in time that you will see as jumps in the video. I setup the annotations in the video to show when this happens, at least for a few times.

*Forhead slap*

“You stupid idiot.” – Me

Lesson learned though, I’ll be sure the camera is in manual focus mode next time. Ugh. What a waste of a great opportunity.

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