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 gear.  Try cleaning the lenses first with a lens brush, microfiber cloth, and blower.  If the spots remain – it might be your sensor.  Try locking up your mirror and using a blower on it.  This is not always enough and it’s hard to tell in the field.  Sometimes a sensor needs real professional cleaning as they’re easy to damage.  Sensor dust tends to appear 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, Adobe Camera RAW, Neat Video, or another tool). Example below is of a pre/post noise reduced frame – notice that the rock in bottom left is no longer multicolored versus top – this really ‘dances’ in a rendered video:

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 while others dance between exposures.  Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw noise reduction do a great job of getting rid of them, but they’re much more work to remove in Davinci Resolve. However – a new hot pixel removal new tool in the full version of Resolve 14 helps, and I take care of others with a camera sensor profile I built with the free OFX plugin called Pixel Patcher.


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