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Time-lapse Fun: Carving a Jack ‘O Lantern in 60 seconds

Try something new. Ever made a time-lapse? It’s simple as pie if you use one of the newer Nikon DSLRs. Create a time-lapse that speeds up an entire afternoon—distilling it down to 60 seconds. Follow our recipe to create a new way of telling a story using Time-Lapse Photography.

Recipe for Success:
  • Tell a story
  • Gather your cast
  • Position the camera
  • Add light and motion
  • Determine timing
  • Review and share
When preparing to do a time-lapse, a steady tripod is a must. Before starting your project, shoot a few minutes of footage to ensure your settings are yielding the best exposure, etc.

When preparing to do a time-lapse, a steady tripod is a must. Before starting your project, shoot a few minutes of footage to ensure your settings are yielding the best exposure, etc.

Start to Finish

Whether your time-lapse will run 15 seconds, 30 seconds or more, follow a storyline. Just like a good holiday meal, start with something appetizing, share lots of great food, close with a sweet ending.

Cast of Characters

Who (or what) will star? We used a pumpkin. Keep everything harmonious. An appealing time-lapse has a distinct color palette that complements the theme. Trick or treat autumn tones, anyone?

Places Everyone!

What goes where and when? What’s in the frame should be logical and harmonious. Determine camera placement by going through the range of movements in your script. How much of this motion needs to be seen?

A time-lapse is always good fun; it is amazing how quickly inanimate objects can come to life - experiment, and above all, be sure to have fun!

A time-lapse is always good fun; it is amazing how quickly inanimate objects can come to life – experiment, and above all, be sure to have fun!

Tip: Figure out best camera and lens settings by shooting some stills. You can objectively determine how close the camera should be, and you can hone-in point of focus, depth of field and exposure.

Musts: Manually set exposure and focus. Keep Autofocus (AF) turned off. Do these to avoid having the camera ‘take over’ and change settings during capture. Use a tripod!

Light and Motion

When moving about, how will shadows be affected? Build your story and ensure that illumination remains steady, unblocked and similar. Your subject needs to be clearly lit and remain in the camera’s prime zone of focus.

Tip: If lighting will change during the span of capture, set to Auto with Exposure Smoothing. The camera will automatically adjust the exposure and give a more uniform look. In our time-lapse we manually set exposure.

Nikon D7200 & AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens setup for time-lapse shooting.

Nikon D7200 & AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens setup for time-lapse shooting.

Timing is Everything

Cameras such as the Nikon D7200 can prep a time-lapse at the touch of a few settings. On the D7200, go to the Movie Shooting menu and select Time-lapse Photography.

  • Select Interval Frame Rate (how often the camera will fire a photo). You can have the camera take one image every second, one image every 10 seconds, etc. (Our video used 1 second)
  • Next, select Shoot Duration (how long the camera will capture). Make a duration selection and the camera displays how long your time-lapse will be.

When ready, press Start to let the camera do the work. Your Nikon D7200 time-lapse will be a .mov file. Time-lapses are recorded without sound, so if you want music or voice-over you’ll need third party software.

Review and Share

Once it’s a wrap, share your mini movie—upload to social media, attach and send in email or debut it on your HDTV.

Checklist
  • Charge battery
  • Format SD card (class 10 advised)
  • Use a tripod
  • Pair best lens to the scene
Camera Settings
  • Select either DX or 1.3 Crop Mode
  • Movie Option: select as desired; this time-lapse used 1080p 30s
  • Focus: Manual
  • Exposure: Manual
  • White Balance: Manual; in this time-lapse we warmed the scene to enhance fall colors
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  • Jake

    Does the time lapse process as a movie in the camera with the D7200?
    I’m using a D7100, where the interval timed photos are a series of single photos. Could you point me in the direction of a program you’d use to process the individual photos into a time lapse movie?

    Thank you!

    • ImageChaser

      The D7200 does have the option to generate a time-lapse movie. This was a new feature added to D7200 which the D7100 unfortunately does not have. There are a few programs that can create movies from a sequence of photos and they range in price as well. If you use a mac, you may want to try Quicktime Pro – here’s a nice tutorial on how to do it: http://havecamerawilltravel.com/photographer/compile-timelapse-video-quicktime-pro

      If you are using a Windows machine, you may want to check out the Windows Movie Maker as a simple tool to create a time-lapse movie

      If you are looking for more advanced features you can also look at video editing programs such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro which allow you to create time-lapse movies as well as add in more effects, etc.