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Getting started with time lapses

 Today I wanted to walk you through how you get started with simple time lapses. You don't have to have a big time lapse slider to get some cool content. Getting started with time lapses is actually pretty simple.

One of my first time lapses

To get started you will need a camera with an internal intervalometer or a remote with an intervalometer. An intervalometer is something that makes the camera take pictures at a certain interval. The other thing you will need to get started is a sturdy tripod so there is no movement over the course of your time lapse. 

That's pretty much all you need to get started. Now just find a scene where there will be good movement, whether it is clouds, people, cars, etc. To get the best results put your camera in manual so that the exposure doesn't change during the time lapse. Once you have the camera settings right it is time to program your intervalometer. Knowing what to set your intervalometer at will take some practice but I'll give you a few tips to keep in mind. 

  1. Video is typically played back at 24 or 30 frames per second. So if you take 300 pictures you will have a 10-13 second time lapse when you make it into a video. 10 seconds is plenty long for a clip. Most of the time when I use a time lapse in a video it is only for 5-7 seconds.
  2. If your subject is moving faster you will want to take the images at a shorter interval. For instance when shooting people moving I will shoot at an interval of about 2 seconds and if I am shooting clouds I will shoot at 3-4 second intervals. When capturing stars it is usually about 35 seconds between shots.

A good place to start is to set your intervalometer for 200 shots at 3 second intervals.

To post process the time lapse you will need to get all the images together. If you want to make edits to them do it as a batch edit in Lightroom or Photoshop so the same changes happen to each image. This will ensure your video will look smooth without any abrupt changes to exposure. To make it into a video you will need some type of video editor. I use Adobe Premiere Pro, but you can even use Quicktime Pro or the Gopro studio. Basically you just want to make each image one frame of the video.

I hope this gives you a good start in time lapses. Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

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How Photography and Video Can Boost Your Brand

It doesn't matter how many words you write about your brand, with text alone not very many people will believe your claims. We are inherently skeptical about most of what we read, this is why images and video are so important to improving your brand. Throughout this post I will use the example of a cycling brand, but the principles apply to just about anything. Let's say this brand has a new road bike out and it promises to make you go faster, climb better, is more comfortable etc. You probably wouldn't believe it unless there was something to back it up? 

A fast way to backup your claims is with photos or video, but how do you show speed, climbing ability, or comfort? 

Although it requires much more time to produce, often it is easier to tell these stories with video. You can show someone going fast, climbing a steep grade, looking comfortable over rough terrain or simply giving a testimonial. 

With a still image it can be a little more difficult to tell these stories.

How do you show speed?

A panning image can be a great way to show speed

Although there is no movement in this image you get the sense that the rider is moving fast. The blurred wheels and scenery are associated with speed.

How do you show your bike climbing better?

A rider ahead of the pack on a short climb

By utilizing a shallow depth of field the focus is kept on the rider that is ahead of the pack on this short climb. This is a great way to show that a rider or bike is climbing better,

 

These are just two examples, but we could go on with other aspects. The key to boosting your brand's credibility is to find a way to tell your story visually.

I would love to help tell your brand's story, feel free to contact me at chris@chrismabey.com to talk about what we can do to tell your story through photography and video.

 

 

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Why shooting for yourself is so important

Let's face it, being a photographer is not the most lucrative career. You have to be in it because you love creating great content, but what if you have lost that love

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut when you are working long and hard on various assignments. I spent most of the summer shooting content for the company I co-founded, Capture Beyond Limits. It was a lot of shooting time lapses, and product shots and while it was great getting everything ready for the launch of the company and I still got to be shooting outside, I still missed shooting some landscapes. 

On a little trip we took to Southern California, I headed to the beach at La Jolla to shoot at sunset. I had initially planned on shooting a time lapse, but traffic was bad and I got there too late for a time lapse. On top of that, there weren't any clouds to make it interesting. So I decided it was just going to be a shoot for me. I was able to come away with some shots I really liked and most importantly I was reminded of why I love being a photographer. As a photographer you have the chance to capture amazing places and people doing amazing things.

La Jolla Shores

I hadn't lost my love of photography before this shoot, but it was definitely more work. After shooting in La Jolla my passion for photography was reignited. Remember to take the time to shoot what you love, find some personal work to tackle. Personal work gives you the opportunity to try new things and to really do what you love.

So whether you find a long term project to tackle or if its just a one time shoot go out and shoot for yourself, you might be amazed at what will happen.

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How to get a sunburst in your images

Sunburst at Sunset in the Tetons

ISO 100   f/18  1/10

I have had a few people ask how I get this sunburst effect in my pictures. It's really a pretty simple technique. If you use a very small aperture, something like f/16 or higher usually you can create this effect.

The thing you have to be careful of is metering your exposure. If you use evaluative metering, this means the camera will take an overall average of the light in the scene to pick the exposure, the camera will usually over expose the image. When I'm trying to do this I will usually use spot metering or shoot in manual mode and then bracket the exposures. 

One other thing to keep in mind is that if you are trying to do this just as the sun dips below the horizon or just as it comes up you will have very little time to get your shot. So go out and practice so you can get the technique down. 

If you get some great results I'd love to see them. Post a link in the comments. 

 

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How To Achieve Great Bokeh

What is bokeh? Bokeh in photography is the out of focus region in the picture. You may have seen great pictures where the subject is sharp and the background is out of focus, soft and almost dreamlike. That out of focus region is the bokeh. The other term that is used often with bokeh is depth of field. Depth of field is the amount of your image that is in focus.

ISO: 400  Focal Length: 50mm 

Aperture: f/1.8  Shutter Speed: 1/160

Cropped to get more detailed view

Take for example this picture of some bike gears. There is an area of the image that is sharp and then it becomes more and more out of focus as you get to the top of the picture.

There are a few factors that influence bokeh and the depth of field of your shot: Sensor size, aperture, focal length, distance to subject and distance to background.

Sensor Size

Bigger is better when it comes to bokeh. This is why it is hard to get great bokeh with a point and shoot camera. They typically have very small sensors. If you have a DSLR they will have a much larger sensor and therefore can produce better bokeh. Of course if you want the best, get a full frame DSLR or medium format camera. 

Aperture

Shooting at a very wide aperture will produce better bokeh. This is why I like to shoot in aperture priority mode. If I want a very small depth of field and great bokeh I will choose a very low aperture number. Be careful when shooting with a very low aperture number. You will need to set your focus very carefully because you may have a depth of field less than an inch sometimes. Typically for portraits you should set your focus on the eyes.

Focal Length

A longer focal length will give a shallower depth of field and more bokeh than a shorter focal length. If you are shooting with a 70-200mm zoom lens then you will have a much shallower depth of field at 200mm than at 70mm if all your other settings were the same.

Distance to Subject

If you are closer to your subject you will have more bokeh and if you are farther away from your subject more of the picture will be in focus. This is why macro shots have such a narrow depth of field.

Distance to Background

If you want the background of your picture to be out of focus then don't place your subject right next to the background. For instance if you are shooting a portrait with a wall as a background. Don't have the person you are shooting stand against the wall. Have them stand a few feet in front of the wall.

Summary

If you want the best bokeh and the shallowest depth of field use a large sensor camera, wide aperture (low number), long focal length lens, be close to your subject and have your subject away from the background.

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Easy Ways to Improve Your Landscape Photograhy

Landscapes have always been my favorite subject, here are four easy tips to help you come home with better landscape images.

1. Shoot during the golden hour

In my early days of photography I didn't know much of anything about light. I would just go out and find what I thought was a pretty landscape and shoot away. For the most part I was dissatisfied with my results.

Palau

This picture from the island of Palau could have been much better if I had shot it at a better time of day. Shooting during what is known as the golden hour will really improve the lighting in your images. The golden hour is the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset. So there are really two golden hours in a day. When you are on vacation make good use of both of them.

When you shoot during the golden hours the light has a warm golden feel to it. The light is very diffuse because of the low angle of the sun so it eliminates harsh shadows. Look at this example of shooting during the golden hour.

Moulton Barn

Moulton Barn in Morning Light

If this image of the Moulton Barn had been made in the middle of the afternoon chances are I would have just deleted it. There would have been harsh shadows and there is a chance the sky would've been blown out (all white and void of detail). This image is what it is because of shooting during the golden hour.

2. Include Foreground Interest

I think this is one of the best things you can do for your landscape photography. It will make your images more interesting and will hold the viewers attention better. Place some prominent element or elements in the foreground of your composition. For example, look at the following photo that I cropped down to exclude the foreground elements.

It's pretty boring and uninteresting. Sure there was this beautiful mountain, but the image fails to hold the viewers attention

Now look at the original image with the foreground elements

Philips Lake in the Grand Tetons

The rocks add foreground interest and serve to hold the attention of the viewer.

3. Create Depth

The use of leading lines helps a two dimensional image seem more three dimensional. These will lead the viewer's eye into the image and hold his or her interest. Ideally the lines should lead to the focal point of the image.

Oxbow Bend

In this image of Oxbow Bend the lines of the river lead the eye to the mountains. The concept of using lines in an image to lead the eye is something that will greatly improve your shots. When shooting landscapes look for slightly different angles to shoot from that will create stronger leading lines. Using a strong foreground element will also add depth to your image.

4. Use Basic Composition Rules

I will simplify this tip by saying, use the rule of thirds. There are other more complicated composition rules but learning the rule of thirds is the first rule that you should learn and master. Imagine the viewfinder or screen of your camera is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Then align objects in your frame with those divider lines.

Snake River Overlook

Notice how in my Snake River Overlook picture the mountains coincide with the top third line. If this sounds too hard for you then simply put your subject slightly off center in the frame. Don't put the horizon in the center of the frame. Like all rules, the rule of thirds is meant to be broken sometimes, but more often than not it is an excellent starting place for composition.

These tips are an excellent starting place for improving your landscape photography. Now get out and practice.

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