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Guide to Capturing Cityscape Timelapses



Here is a step-by-step guide on how to capture cityscape timelapses:

  1. Equipment: You will need a camera with manual control options, a tripod, and a remote or intervalometer to control the camera's shooting intervals.

  2. Planning: Choose a location with a good view of the cityscape and consider the direction of the sun. Plan the timing of the shoot to ensure that you have the best lighting conditions.

  3. Camera Settings: Set the camera to manual mode and adjust the settings to capture high-quality images. Use a low ISO, a small aperture (e.g. f/11 - f/16), and a fast shutter speed (e.g. 1/125s) to ensure sharp images with minimal noise. If moving traffic is included in the composition then using a slower shutter speed (1/15th, 1/30th) will help create a slight blur to any subject moving in the scene. A slower shutter speed during the day may require the use of an ND filter (ND4 or ND8) to help reduce the amount of light coming in through the lens.

  4. Mounting the Camera: Mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and make sure it is level and stable.

  5. Intervalometer Settings: Set the intervalometer to take photos at regular intervals, such as every 5 seconds. Keep in mind that to produce a 30 second timelapse you'll want to capture between 720 and 900 photographs. Cinematic timelapses are often played back at 24 frames-per-second. In this case 720 captures images will product a 30-second timelapse (720 / 24 = 30). If you produce a timelapse that plays back at 30fps then 900 frames will be needed to create a 30-second timelapse (900/30 = 30).

  6. Shooting: Start the timelapse and let it run for the desired duration, making sure to keep the camera still and undisturbed.

  7. Processing: Transfer the images to your computer and use timelapse software such as LRTimelapse and Lightroom to process the images and export them into a rendered video. Adjust the speed, crop, and add transitions as needed within the export module of LRTimelapse.

  8. Finalizing: Import the rendered timelapse into a video editor (iMovie, Premiere Pro, DaVince Resolve, Photoshop, Sony Vegas Studio, etc.) to add a soundtrack, change or ramp speed, and to add additional grading to your timelapse.


Note: It's recommended to take a test shot before starting the timelapse to ensure that the camera settings are correct.

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