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Learn how to speed up time and create compelling visual effects with time-lapse photography. Join Rich Harrington in the field as he captures nature's patterns at Red Rock Canyon in southwestern Nevada, and shows how to frame your scene and choose the proper camera settings. He'll show you how to capture great images, whether you're using a DSLR camera and a motorized slider or just a smartphone you have handy. Then join him back in the studio to transform your still footage into a storytelling time-lapse video, using tools like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We are honored to host this content in our library.
Rich: In this case, I didn't have the F stop open too wide. But I had a very short shutter speed, because I'd been previously shooting video on the camera. And the ISO was a bit high. Everybody screws up. But fortunately, Raw is a bit of a safety net. And let's see how good it is. We'll select all these images and choose to open them in Camera Raw. That's a lot of blown out areas. And in fact, look at how the histogram is slammed. Well, I'll click Auto, and a bit has been recovered.
We can now pull down the highlights even more. That's looking pretty good. Let's take the exposure down a bit more, and lift the shadowy regions a little bit. At this point some Clarity will help. And I need to find the balance of letting some of those whites clip. Before, let's turn off the preview, after. So, quite a bit of detail there. Because I've changed that so much, I need to adjust the overall Saturation and Vibrance to dial it in correctly.
And I'll take advantage of a Curves Adjustment. The Curves Adjustment can be useful to put a little bit of contrast into different areas. So, for example, I can pull down the highlights a bit more while leaving the shadows less affected. The Curve Adjustment here was useful, because it let me tone down the exposure in the highlight region while leaving the shadowy areas mostly untouched. You can finesse that by dragging. And remember, the control points really give you flexibility to go after an adjust.
Just be gentle as you make those refinements. At this point, I'll do a little noise reduction. And that's looking dramatically better. I could play with how the blacks and the whites clip, and that can be useful to refinement. The before and the after state. I'll select all and click Synchronize, taking all those settings across the image.
And what you see is a shot that went from totally unusable to one that's okay. I certainly wouldn't call this the best shot of the day, but the point is, is with Adobe Camera Raw, you can take advantage of some pretty big fixes. Always and I mean always, if it is up to you, shoot Raw when doing time lapse. Remember, as we discussed in the field, you might need a few more cards, you might have to back up a bit more often, but the technical advantages that you receive are immense. As you saw here, it's a lot easier to tackle exposure problems with a Raw image.
For comparison, let's take a look at some JPEG files. What I have here is a series of JPEG files shot with a GoPro. Now, these files show motion, and this is from an unmanned time lapse camera. Well, there's a couple things wrong with the shot. Most obviously is the condensation caused by the extremely cold weather on the left edge of the frame, and that's okay. We'll crop around that and put a little bit of a vignette to hide it. However, the exposure here is not great.
Look how everything is sort of drifting to the left. I'll do an auto adjustment to pull that up a bit. And it's looking better, if not a bit overexposed. I'll recover some of the highlights to bring the cloud detail back in, and that's helping. But balance it out by lifting the shadows down below. Now, at this point, I have spread the highlights and the shadow sliders to the complete opposite ends of the spectrum. And while it's helped, we have safely reached the limit of what can be done with the JPEG file, at least with the first pass of processing.
We can always add an additional shadow highlights filter once we leave Camera Raw. But a little bit of clarity will go a long way to bring out some of that detail. And of course, let's fill in the color. That's looking better. Before, after. Let's crop. I'll choose a 9 to 16 aspect ratio, and we'll adjust that a bit. Here we go. That feels pretty good.
And I will commit that. And now, under the Effects tab, a little post crop vignette too guide the eye towards the middle. Let's adjust the Feather. So, from there to there, and the vignette is helping hide things. Alright, this is where we started, this is where we took it. For a GoPro shot, I'm pretty happy. This again, was an unmanned camera that only cost a couple hundred bucks, that I was able to tack up and get an additional angle of my scene.
However, it's not as good as a DSLR. Let me synchronize that, and I'll tell it to synchronize everything including the Crop. There we go. And now across the board, those images are updated. There we go. While I'm here, let me show you a little trick. Inside Adobe Bridge, one thing you could do is press the Spacebar to go full screen. You can now use the down arrow to cycle through your frames and get a low quality real time preview of what your time lapse shot looks like.
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