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Processing an HDR time lapse

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Processing an HDR time lapse

So after a couple hours, I went back to my camera, and I stopped the intervalometer. And, in this case, that is going to be yeah, this HDR time Now we need to tell it what to spit out and where.

Processing an HDR time lapse

So after a couple hours, I went back to my camera, and I stopped the intervalometer. It may have stopped in the middle of a bracket, it's I don't know, doesn't matter I can always throw those out or trim those up. Packed up the camera, brought it back, had a huge mess of data, gigabytes of data. So I've copied that on to my drive, and I have all those files here. Now I'm ready to start the process of merging. Now, normally, when you're just shooting a time lapse, you take all of your frames that you've shot, and you use software that stitches it together into a movie, not stitches, but sequences those individual frames together into a movie.

Normally, when you shoot HDR, a single HDR scene You take those three images, and you run them through HDR processing software, and it combines them. We have to do both of those things. We have to take the first three HDR shots, merge them into a finished HDR, store the result, grab the next three, process those, store that. And after all of that gets done, take all of those stored results, then sequence them together into a time lapse. That could be a real asset management nightmare. Fortunately, Photomatix Pro, which is one of the main HDR processing applications, can batch that for us and automatically grab images out of a folder three at a time and process them.

Again, if you've seen my HDR course, You've seen photomatics in great detail, so I'm not going to go into a lot of its settings here, I'm just going to show you how you can do this batch processing thing. So here I am. I've got this workflow shortcuts palette that comes up right away, and if you notice, right down here at the bottom it says batch bracketed photos, which is exactly what we need to do. I'm going to click that. I get this dialog box, now this is not the normal Photomatics dialog box that you may be used to, it doesn't have the fine level of control that I normally have.

I can get to that control but again we're not going to go that deep into Photomatics here in this short movie. So, what do I want to do here? I want to control my process, I want to merge Into 32-bit H-D-R files. And I can control those settings if I want. I'm going to tone map with details enhancer. Again, I was not facing a real high dynamic range seen. The reason I chose to go for H-D-R is to get the nice H-D-R effect that appears when we process clouds. So I know that that comes from details enhancer, rather than tone compressor. I don't need to worry about any of these fusion things or averaging exposures.

I do want to select three images at a time. I'm going to go ahead and have it align the images, even though I was shooting on a tripod, and. It was windy, the strap might be blowing around. Photomatix does a good job with alignments, so I might as well go ahead and have it do that. Next thing I need to do is tell it where my source images are. So, I'm going to go in here and say Selection by Folder. And then I'm going to select the source folder. And, in this case, that is going to be yeah, this HDR time lapse folder that I copied over here earlier, so I'm just going to select that.

Now we need to tell it what to spit out and where. So I want to go out to a customized location. I've actually already made a folder that I want it to go into. That's this HDR time lapse results that I made. I want to save as a JPEG. I can choose to save as TIFF or JPEG I want JPEG because I know that the software that I'm going to use to assemble the time lapse, requires JPEG files. So that's something I've looked into ahead of time. Save 32-bit HDR file as either a Radiance RGBE file or OpenEXR. I actually don't want either of those. Unfortunately there's no none option.

What that does is it merges a 32-bit file before it does the tone-mapping, and it saves that 32-bit file. I don't actually need it. If I wanted to open these all up later and reprocess them somehow, it would save me a step. But I'm never going to do that. Nevertheless, I cannot Oh wait, I can, look. I've never noticed this before. There's this handy check box here that says, remove 32-bit HDR file after tone mapping. Okay, great. That's going to save me the step of deleting those by hand later. so I think I'm ready to go here. I'm going to go ahead and tell it to run. I'm not going to see anything happen.

It's not going to show me any previews. It's not going to show me the normal controls that I get in Photomatix. It just gives me some status updates here. Loading three images, aligning images, merging images, processing images, removing that HDR file and then it starts the next batch. I did kind of a rough count earlier and it looked like it was taking about seven seconds per bracketed set. So, if you know how many files you've got, You could do the math and get an estimate of how long it's going to take just to do this stage of the process. So I'm going to tell it to stop that next combination, because we don't want to sit here for three hours.

I promise you I would become extremely boring by that point. So I'm going to tell it to stop, I'm going to close that up And if I go in here to look at my HDR time lapse results folder, it managed to make it through six sets and left me with six images. So let's just do a quick preview on there. That's typical HDR-looking clouds. It's a little low-contrasty, but I can fix that later if I want. Or I can fix it now. I could actually do a batch process On all of these individual images before I merge them into a finished video.

And as I move through these, you can see the clouds moving a little bit. That's just the effect we were looking for. Alternately, could stitch them into or sequence them into a video and then use video editing software to do my levels adjustment. So, I'm want to move onto that next step. Obviously, I haven't processed everything. A little bit earlier I processed a few more frames. I've got a few more finished merges so we're going to go ahead and take those and put them into a time lapse. I'm going to delete those HDR files that I don't need. Now, there are a lot of different ways of sequencing individual stills into a time lapse.

A lot of high end video-editing applications will do that. If you don't own one of those, you can probably just Google around on time lapse assembly, or time lapse merging, or something like that. I did that, and I found this little shareware program called time lapse assembler. It's very simple, a very stripped down interface. I choose a source directory of images, in this case. That's this folder right here. I tell it what codec I want to use and what frame rate I want. If I like, I can actually have it scale the images down and give it a quality setting and just tell it to encode.

Give it a name, call it finished time lapse. And it's going to sit there. It's doing it pretty quickly. This is a pretty simple operation. Again I don't know if I want to do. If I really want to really preserve quality it would be best to do that contrast adjustment to my individual images before I do this assembly step because this is all ready compressed video. I'm going to drop it into a video editor and do it there then I'm going to end up possibly losing a little quality. So I'm going to open up the finished result. And there we go. So you can see HDR has given me these really nice cloud effects.

While of course the time lapse is letting me see the motion of the clouds. So if this is something you think you're interested in, you're going to need a few things. You're going to need a tripod, you need a camera, and you need to know what the drive or burst speed of the camera is. You can look that up in your Manual or you can just put it in drive mode and hold the button down and see how many frames it clicks off in a second. If you can do three frames in a second then you can buy yourself a nice inexpensive intervelometer off of somewhere like Amazon or B&H. If not your going to have to go to a more sophisticated solution which might be Tethering to a computer and using remote control software.

Finally you're going to need to do it this way, a copy of Photomatix which really scores because of that batch processing mode and that let's me hand it a huge folder full of images. and it can just pull out three at a time and assemble them. And finally you're going to need some way to assemble the results. Into a finished Quicktime or there, a finished video file of some kind. So before you head out to start shooting, take a look into all of those parts. See if you've got the right kind of camera and if you can identify the right kind of intervalometer. Gather all that stuff out. Find a nice H-D-R-C. And that's going to be a place with a whole lot of dynamic range, a whole lot of dark, a whole lot of light.

Or a scene with a lot of really nice clouds, get set up, and you can take some movies like this.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

68 video lessons · 42285 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 28s
    1. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 6h 42m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s

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