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Tutorial: How to Create Dynamic Timelapses With DSLRs

This tutorial demonstrates how to create vibrant timelapses using high-resolution images captured with DSLRs, and edited and exported with Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, and Photoshop.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create dynamic timelapses with DSLR cameras. I’ll begin by pointing out some of the benefits of using your DSLR camera to capture vibrant timelapses.

Benefits of DSLRs for Timelapses

One of the most important factors is the resolution that you're capable of getting with a DLSR. Even with entry-level models you're able to capture images that far exceed your 1080 HD camera and even 4K models when working in Raw mode. Working with these larger dimensions gives you room to crop and add motion in post that mimics slider and jib movements, and allows you to deliver high-quality exports that can be shown on large screens.

Another benefit to using stills over video is that you can use high-end tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Camera Raw, and After Effects to create a stylized and dynamic final product.

Last but not least, the convenience of being able to travel lightweight and more compact is a big bonus. This is especially true when you're making a trip to remote locations. Those are just a few benefits to consider when shooting your next timelapse.

Must-Have Items for Your Timelapse Kit

There are a few must-have items that you should have in your toolkit when creating a timelapse. Here is a list of things I had when I shot the timelapse in the video that accompanies this tutorial:
• a solid tripod
• an intervalometer, which allowed me to set timing and intervals for my timelapse
• fully charged batteries, or external power
• Plenty of high-capacity Class 10 or higher memory cards

Post production-wise, I used Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, and Camera Raw to edit my photos into this timelapse.

Shooting Tips

For the timelapse that accompanies this tutorial, I shot everything in manual mode so that I had control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

One common question when starting with timelapses is determining how long you need to shoot for. This will depend on the delivery format of your final video and the interval you used. In my case, I was looking to produce a 15-second video with a frame rate of 24 frames per second. To keep it really simple, I multiplied 15 by 24, which told me I needed to capture 360 total frames to create a 15-second output. I would suggest that you capture a few extra frames just in case there's an image you want to remove later on in post.


Following my field shoot, I came back with my 360-something still photos and organized them into a folder on my drive. Next I used Adobe Bridge to group my photos. Bridge ships with Adobe Creative Cloud and is a beautiful way to sample your photos and media. Once you navigate to your photos inside of Bridge you can group your photos into a stack (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. Stacking photos in Adobe Bridge. Click the image to see it at full size.

The cool thing about this feature is that you can preview your timelapse by closing the stack and then using the slider bar to scan through your images (Figure 2, below). Let's re-open the stack and move forward with the next step in the process.

Figure 2. You can use this slider to scan through your images in Bridge. Click the image to see it at full size.

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