Create a high dynamic range (HDR) time-lapse movie: The Practicing Photographer

Published by | Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Creating a HDR time-lapse movie

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In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long combines two techniques that involve capturing the world in unique ways—ways that we can’t see with our eyes but that photography lets us bring to life.

One technique is high dynamic range, or HDR, photography. That’s the process of taking multiple shots of a scene, each with a different exposure setting, and then merging them into one photo that captures a broad range of bright and dark tones. Ben describes HDR in detail in his course Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR).

The other technique Ben employs this week is time-lapse photography: shooting a photo of the same scene at regular intervals, and then combining those frames into a movie that appears to speed up the passage of time. That’s a subject covered in other courses, including Creating Time-Lapse Video and Time-Lapse Photography Workshop.

Combine HDR and time-lapse, and you have this week’s two-part installment—and movies like this one.

Ben creates this movie in this week’s installment. In part one, he shoots the exposures that will comprise the time-lapse movie. He explains that you’ll need a tripod-mounted camera capable of taking a few exposures per second, each at a different exposure setting. (Most digital SLRs can do this rapid-fire bracketed shooting.) Depending on your camera, you may also need an intervalometer—an inexpensive add-on that lets you set up timed shots.

After you set up your gear and frame your shot, go do something else while your camera does the work. Then transfer what might be hundreds or thousands of photos to your computer and watch part two of this week’s installment. Ben describes how he uses Photomatix software to merge each exposure, and a shareware program called Time Lapse Assembler to combine them into a finished movie.

Ben ends this week’s installment with a recap of the gear and techniques you’ll use to create HDR time-lapse. Give them a try. If you’ve never tinkered with HDR or with time-lapses, check out the courses linked above. Experiment with each technique to get a feel for the process. Then combine them to see the world in a whole new way.

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