Squeeze hours of pictures into a 30-second video, or how to get into time lapse photography

Most cameras today are equipped with an intervalometer, along with the classic self-timer mode. With this feature, you can set your camera to take a photo at any interval for a specified period of time.

If you wake up one morning and find out there’s a snowstorm coming in the next hours, it could be a great idea to set your camera on a tripod and let it take pictures throughout the day, while you’re at work. When you come home, you’ll have a couple of hundred images. You can squeeze all these photos into one pretty amazing video.

Video, is, put simply, a bunch of still images thrown at your eyes at a steady rhythm of 24 or 30 images per second. Your brain then sees them as moving images. And the rest is history: movies have enjoyed great success for over 100 years!

Choose a subject and a duration

If you want to build a great time lapse video, you will need a lot of images. Maybe you don’t need to start at 24 images per second, as this would call for 1440 shots for a minute-long video. In a pinch, 15 images or even 8 per second will still let you create the illusion of moving images.

For a time lapse of snow falling in your backyard, let’s assume the snowfall should end after six hours. If you want to compress this snowfall in a one-minute video, you would have to take a picture every 15 seconds. Most intervalometers will offer you this possibility.

If you aim for a 15-second video at 24 images per second, you could take a picture every minute. In six hours, you’ll have 360 photos.

People are always fascinated by time lapses. If you share your video on your favorite social network, you can count on at least one or two positive reactions, or even more if you have lots of friends. Enough to give you the courage to get out and shovel all the snow.

You think editing a time lapse video is difficult? No need to cut and paste each picture in a video editing software. Here are two among many sources of free software that will help you process your video quickly, as you long as you put all your pictures in the same folder. If you have a fairly recent camera, you should also check if there is a time lapse mode in your menu. The video will then be rendered straight in your camera and you won’t have to build it from your images afterwards.

Images to Video (Windows)


Time Lapse Assembler (MAC)