An amateur's guide to time lapse photography

An amateur's guide to time lapse photography

PORTLAND, Ore. - With the equipment out there today, much of which is quite affordable, even amateurs can get into the photography game and some have even discovered fun ways to make their images spring to life.

Andrew Curtis, a Portland machinist by trade and amatuer photographer in his spare time, has done just that and his hobby has been drawing interest.

For the past year, Curtis has been testing the waters with his Nikon D80 camera by creating time-lapse videos using stills he has been shooting in various locales around the Portland area and beyond.  The photography is stunning and his YouNews submissions have even been featured on air at KATU News.  Here are a few samples:

Those are just a few of Curtis' creations.  He has many more on his Vimeo page.  Here are a few you can find there:

So how does Curtis create these intriguing and visually appealing time lapse videos?  Here's how he does it.

The Equipment

Curtis uses a Nikon D80 digital SLR camera set atop a telescope mount and tripod.  He also has an interval timer, a device that will make your camera automatically snap photos at whatever time interval you set it to.  Curtis purchased a Pclix interval timer. 

The Photo Shoot

Curtis said he simply sets up his camera for manual exposures, turns off the auto focus, sets the interval timer and lets the camera do the rest.  You can shoot for as long as you like,  He said on average, he lets the camera go for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Making the Time Lapse Video

Curtis uses QuickTime Pro, which has an option to turn a set of stills into a movie.  He simply selects the photos he wants to use and lets the program do the rest.  He said you can also use Windows Movie Maker, a standard program on many PCs.

More Information On Time Lapse Photography

Time lapse photography is nothing new and there are a lot of resources and tips available to someone who wants to dabble.  Here are a few items of interest to get you started:


Shannon L. Cheesman is a Portland-area Web Producer/Reporter. She writes and reports for Fisher Interactive Network, which consists of 13 local news/information Web sites in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.