Other Issues

Lots of things can go wrong during a timelapse! Here are a few more that didn’t deserve their own header:

My Timelapse Ends up Too Dark or Too Bright

Get used to this.  Learn to watch the histogram on your camera and leave some space for the exposure to change and keep the shot solid.  You need to try to envision how much light is going to appear after that cloud moves off the sun, or after the moon rises at night.  During sunset or sunrise things usually change enough within 15min that you need to change shots (easy) or use a bulb ramping features and special post software to fix exposure changes (very hard). Shooting RAW gives you a lot of space to maneuver and fix these sorts of lighting changes in post with animation.

My Timelapse Has Spots on It

Your sensor or lens has dust or oil on it.  Photographers who work in lightroom might not realize how much of a problem this can be, especially at higher aperture values you want to use for night timelapse.  You can’t use normal lightroom dust removal tools because these assume your picture isn’t changing over time.  After camping on a dusty desert mountain for a week – there is going to be dust on your sensor.  There are a couple of ways to tackle this problem – Always keep your lenses and sensor clean use a brush, microfiber cloth, and blower – only the blower on your sensor.  This is not always enough and it’s hard to tell in the field.  Sometimes a sensor needs real professional cleaning.  Sensor dust tends to be worse at more closed f-stops (say >f14).  It is less severe at wide open.  Below is an example of sensor dust:

oil spots

My Timelapse Has Way Too Much Noise or Hot Pixels:

Turn down your ISO, shorten your exposure length, or get a noise reduction plugin for post. Just because you can fix the noise for a single frame doesn’t mean it won’t dance and make a shot look awful once it’s stitched into a timelapse! For night shots on a 6D I won’t go above 6400 ISO, and prefer 1600 or 3200. Even this requires noise reduction in post (either from lightroom or camera raw, or Neat Video. Example of pre/post noise reduced picture  (notice rock in bottom left is no longer multicolored versus top – this really ‘dances’ in a frame):

denoise BEFORE

denoise AFTER

Get used to hot pixels.  These are a natural part of taking long exposures at night.  Some will stay ‘stuck’ and are unique to your sensor under certain conditions and others dance between exposures.  Lightroom and camera raw noise reduction do a great job of getting rid of them, but they’re much more work to remove in Davinci Resolve. I get rid of some with Pixel Patcher.

 

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