Do you love those beautiful time lapse HD video sequences you see on tv nature documentary series like Planet Earth, Blue Planet, and the BBC’s Life? At DogExplorer, we do. Now they are easier than ever to create yourself with HDSLR (High Definition Single Lens Reflex) cameras like the Nikon D7000. Welcome to the first episode of Postcards from Nature™, a new occasional photography and video series from DogExplorer – our goal is to showcase beautiful videos and photographs of the natural world and share with you tips and techniques on how to capture them when you are out in the wild with your dogs, family and friends.

Time Lapse – What is Time Lapse?

Time lapse (or timelapse) is nothing more than a video or motion picture made up of a series of still photos taken over time and assembled into a video sequence. It allows us to see a plant bloom, the moon rise, or a building grow from nothing into a skyscraper. In a way, it is video time travel: minutes, hours, days and even months and years can be compressed and displayed in seconds.

Traditionally, a device called an intervalometer was used to control the camera. This was true of both film/video cameras as well as still photography cameras. With improvements in computers and electronics, some cameras are now available with an intervalometer built-in. One such camera is the brand new Nikon D7000 HDSLR.

The intervalometer in the D7000 allows you to select the number of pictures you wish to take in a sequence (up to 999), how many to take at a time, and how often to take them (1 per second, per hour, per minute, etc.) For this test shoot we wanted to create a very simple HD video time lapse sequence. We’d build our time lapse from "large" size "fine" quality jpeg stills (large and fine are settings in our Nikon camera). The images were taken on a tripod just after a massive rainstorm cleared, at sunset, on a California beach. In case you have not heard, the Nikon D7000 is a very popular HDSLR that finally brings professional grade HD video features and quality to the Nikon line.

We captured all the images with a D7000, a Nikkor 80-200mm lens at 80mm, ISO set to ASA 200, and white balance to daylight. There are three sequences. The first was shot at a shutter speed of 1/100th, the second at a shutter speed of 1/13th, and the last at a shutter speed of 1/25th. The slower your shutter speed the greater the blur in your frames if there is movement of your subject. Most folks suggest a shutter speed of 1/125th or slower. Each sequence was captured with 1 frame shot every 3 seconds.

The camera was aimed at the pier and away from the sunset in the first two sequences because the pier would have lights turn on as night fell, the clouds above and behind would move during the shoot, and the hope was that golden light from the setting sun would bounce off the towering rain clouds in the distance. Not this time. There was beautiful golden light from the sunset itself so the camera was turned in that direction for the final sequence.

To build the video Quicktime Pro (about $25.00) was used to import the files as an image sequence. The frame rate was set at 29.97 fps before exporting as a Quicktime movie for editing.

Hopefully some light was shed on how to create beautiful time lapse videos of nature when you are out exploring with your dog. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask away in our forum.

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For some amazing time lapse movies visit this website: timelapse video (a new window will open)

Comments on this are welcome!