Time Lapse Workshop

Time Lapse Workshop

Jack Daniels Davis leads the Time Lapse Workshop

This past Sunday the Upstate Photography Meetup held a workshop on time lapse photography. I had not been to many of the group’s gatherings lately, but since this is one of my interests, I decided to attend.

Readers of this blog will know that I’ve done quite a few experiments with time-lapse already. However, I wanted to get some more ideas. I had some specific thing that I wanted to see discussed, assuming the workshop format would allow for such things. These questions were as follows:

  1. How do you handle changing lighting conditions throughout the course of a time-lapse – for example, while shooting a sunrise or sunset?
  2. What inexpensive techniques for panning are available, apart from purchasing a motorized dolly system?

Apart from that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 23 photographers had signed up for the workshop, which was going to be led by Jack Daniels Davis. Jack had divided the attendees into five groups based on the type of cameras they had. That way each group would be working with similar hardware. At least, that was the theory. The event was taking place at Jade Castle Studio, a new endeavor on Augusta Street that hopes to become a hub for artists.

I arrived at the appointed time, and it looked like a couple of other folks were kind of waiting around. The door to the building was locked, but soon Crystal Tyler, the proprietor, arrived and let us in. Crystal gave us a tour of the building. The building is basically just a house. The downstairs rooms will be rented out for various studios, and the upstairs is a large open space for classes and performances.


We set up in the porch entryway. Jack brought in lots of props that would make great time-lapse subjects, including dyes that could be dropped into water, candles, clocks, and expanding foam shapes. He also had lots of brackets and several intervalometers that would work with different cameras.

Time Lapse Workshop
Jack Daniels Davis conducting Time Lapse Workshop
Ideas for Time Lapse Videos
Using Dyes for Time Lapse
Time Lapse Workshop

Only a fraction of the photographers who signed up actually showed up. None of the others from my assigned group came, so I teamed up with Jack Sexton, whom I had met while waiting for the venue to open. We decided to use the candles, specifically, burning a candle at both ends.

We spent far too much time in setup. We couldn’t get the candle to melt like we wanted so that it would stand upright. Eventually, we used a C-clamp to hold it in place, with a clock in the background to mark the time.

Burning Candle Setup

I decided to use my 50mm f/1.8 lens. I set the aperture to wide open so I’d have a narrow depth of field. The idea was that the candle would be in sharper focus, while the candle would be slightly out of focus in the background.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

As for the time interval, I figured that with the clock it would almost have to be one shot every minute in order to show the clock moving. However, that would take too long in the limited amount of time we had for the afternoon. Also, the candle would burn too fast before we had enough shots. I decided to go with a shot every 20 seconds, while Jack decided to go with the one minute interval. Here is the result.

While our time-lapse was running we wandered around to see what others were doing. One group had set up a Nikon D5100 with a Windows laptop controller.

Time Lapse Workshop
Computer-Controlled Time Lapse

Once we had sets of images, we convened with various bits of Windows and Mac software to render these into time-lapse videos. Jack D was using Photo Lapse on a Windows machine. I had my laptop with Lightroom and the programs I use.


As it turns out, Jack D is married to one of my former tech coordinators. Wanda showed up with cake, which we consumed during the image processing phase. Jack had wanted to do a time-lapse of the cake consumption, but we didn’t have a camera in the right place.

Time Lapse Workshop Cake

While we weren’t able to get the cake consumption, I did manage to do a meta time lapse. At the very beginning of the workshop I had set up my GoPro so that it would capture the whole proceedings. About halfway through, when we moved from the front room to the interior of the studios, I moved the GoPro. Here is that video:

All in all it was an interesting afternoon. Most of the participants were beginners, so the workshop stayed at a very basic level. I didn’t really get answers to my questions, but it was still fun. I did get some good ideas for time lapse subject matter. We’ll see if I can put together a more extended, more interesting time lapse, perhaps after the holidays.

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