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Shooting a High-Dynamic Range (HDR) Time-Lapse Video

with Richard Harrington

Video: Controlling the camera with an advanced intervalometer

Take a trip to Zion National Park to shoot an HDR time-lapse video, compliments of Rich Harrington and the crew at RHED Pixel.
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Shooting a High-Dynamic Range (HDR) Time-Lapse Video
Video Duration: 0s 1h 56m Intermediate


View Course Description

Take a trip to Zion National Park to shoot an HDR time-lapse video, compliments of Rich Harrington and the crew at RHED Pixel. Watch as they show how to capture the sun as it moves across a rock face in this historic park and then enhance the natural beauty of the time-lapse sequence with dramatic HDR development and toning techniques. Along the way, Rich explains what gear you'll need to capture the scene and protect your camera from the elements, and how to set up your camera to shoot JPEG or RAW, create an in-camera HDR sequence, and add finishing touches in post-production programs like Photomatix Pro, After Effects, and Camera Raw.

This course was created and produced by RHED Pixel. We are honored to host this content in our library.

Topics include:
  • Staging the camera
  • Controlling the camera with an intervalometer or smartphone
  • Choosing the right interval for HDR
  • Shooting JPEG or RAW
  • Building a HDR test sequence
  • Developing HDR images
  • Organizing, assembling, and evaluating the shot in post
Photography Video

Controlling the camera with an advanced intervalometer

Alright, at this point I want to take control of the camera. . Now, Nikons have built-in intervalometers but I want more precise so I can shoot in HDR. To do that, I'm going to use my iOS device and a CamRanger. Now a CamRanger is a remote control, essentially a little Wi-Fi unit you attach to your camera and they make an app that runs on a couple of different platforms and desktop computers. And it lets you take control of the camera to shoot time lapse and HDR. So my battery doesn't run out. I'll attach the battery pack here on the side with a tethering strap.

Make sure this battery pack is turned on. And take my cable and plug in. want to make sure that juice is getting to the unit so that the battery doesn't run out in the middle of a take. There we go. It's on. Very important that you maintain power. Alright. At this point, I've got power. I just need to connect to the CamRanger. Using the Wi-Fi I simply select the Cam Ranger unit. Now you're going to want to follow cam ranger's instructions. Here's the highlights. Plug the unit in and connect to it once. That creates a pairing between the unit and the app.

Then you need to connect to a Wi-Fi connection or an Internet connection live data to register the app. I strongly, strongly recommend. You do this before you get out into nature where you may not have an Internet connection. Test the gear before you leave. Once that's done, it's easy. You just connect to the CamRanger using a passcode that's on the unit, and it makes it own Wi-Fi network. So I'm connected. And now, I can launch the app. Let's select that there. It launches and it starts a camera session.

Alright, I'm going to make a new session, start over and what I want to do is take control. Now, before we do any time lapse settings, I'll just do some test shots with HDR. It offers the ability to choose HDR and I could choose which property's going to change. Now in this case my camera is in absolute manual mode so I can control everything remotely. Let's try this here with Shutter Speed. I think that's going to work. I don't want to change the aperture, because that's going to affect the depth of field. So we'll go with shutter.

Let's do a five shot HDR. With two steps in-between. That's going to give me essentially ten stops of dynamic range. I'll press Start and let it take a shot. Pretty good, did five shots there. I could see the very under exposed image up to the over exposed image. Now, in this case, because it's going to be getting darker, I think the under exposed image, the most under exposed image, is just a little bit too dark. So I'm going to bring that up. Let's adjust the ISO here.

And I'll bump that up to ISO500. And I'll adjust the shutter speed a little bit. So the based exposure has a slightly longer shutter speed. Let's try half a second. And it's time to do another test. Let's hit Start. Looks pretty good. I see more coverage in the shadows there, the highlights look pretty good. If I tap the image it'll download it to my tablet. Which makes it so much easier to actually see what it looks like. In fact you can double tap and check things like focus and the fine details.

That absolutely worked, what I wanted there was for the under exposed image to properly show the highlights around 50%. And for the brightest image, the most over exposed, the shadows still needed to be present with a value of a medium gray. At this point, I think I have it. Now, the lighting levels are going to change so we'll talk about the interval shooting in a moment, but all in all, this feels pretty good, and I think I'm ready to give it a shot.

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