'Timelapse Photography' 8 January 2019   
The first meeting of 2019 was well attended with many visitors keen to see the presentation by Ben Maliphant on the subject of timelapse photography. Ben was fairly new to photography in 2013 with an entry level DSLR when he was intrigued by a time-lapse sequence which can give an extra element to the more usual single landscape images.
BM lighthouseAnything that moves can be used for a timelapse sequence – hundreds of images are taken at set intervals and then processed to give the appearance of everything speeded up. A scene might take hours to record but can be seen in seconds showing the changing light as the sun rises or sets, clouds racing across the sky or waves crashing on a shore. Starry skies are another way that time-lapse is used as rather than taking one image with the camera set up for a very long exposure you could take hundreds of images at set intervals and then combine them into one image.
Ben began the evening by showing his impressive video taken around Portishead Quay  – many sequences are edited and expertly put together with added music to make a 3-minute promotional video. Ben explained how a sequence can take thousands of separate images which are condensed down to just a few seconds.
After Ben was given a tripod he decided to try out time-lapse – first the tripod must be absolutely stable as any slight movement will prevent a seamless looking result. Careful thought must be given to the view to be photographed and the camera settings then a test shot or two taken.
BM poolCorrect focus, exposure and depth of field need to be established. Difficulties arise because the light will change over the hours so Ben recommends setting the camera up manually. Most camera now have a timelapse setting and can be set at intervals of a few to many seconds and for a set length of time. Use a cable release to start up the camera and then the photographer just sits back until the camera stops – hoping everything goes well and the resulting images as expected.
For fast moving scenes use about 1 sec intervals and 5 or longer for slow moving scenes. Once the basics are mastered you could make things even more interesting (or difficult) for yourself by introducing rotation or panning in the sequences – this requires specialist equipment to keep the camera absolutely steady.
One of Ben’s first sequences was posted on Youtube and out of the blue he had a phone call from the BBC asking if he would help by setting up a timelapse sequence showing the 6-hour rise and fall of the tide in the Severn Estuary. Keen to fulfil the commission he found that the bridge moved with the wind and traffic so it would be difficult to keep a tripod steady but gained permission to use one of the concrete towers for support and managed to get the required 20 second sequence.
After the hundreds of images are taken for each sequence the computer is used to complete the process. See ‘LR Timelapse’ for information and downloads to find out how the whole process works. Finally, all the sequences have to be skillfully put together to tell a story and give an interesting high quality video. The added music can dramatically effect the mood of the final video – gentle sound gives a calm effect but loud, fast music can give a racy dramatic effect. Ben demonstrated this by showing some time-lapse videos taken by others.
Photographers can specialise in different ways of using their images and timelapse is way that images can be used to create interesting videos. There are lots of tutorials on line to give ideas. Even smart phones can take time-lapse but if you want super quality then you will need to get the specialist equipment and software.
To see the full effect of his timelapse videos you will need to visit Ben’s website and many more sequences by others can be seen on line.
Club chairman Steve Hardman thanked Ben for his informative, entertaining and inspirational presentation and for showing the club something rather different that can be done with photography.  PM
Images © Ben Maliphant.        Still images taken from timelapse sequences.