How to plan for compelling time-lapse photography


“Almost every third assignment we now undertake has a time-lapse photography component”, says Chris Shain, co owner of specialist photography business, Images for Business. “This is because our clients, particularly those in industry, infrastructure, engineering or architecture are realising the wide and growing benefits time-lapse can make to their organisations.”

LONG TERM time-lapse projects are typically those that can take from several months to several years. Commonly requested by construction and civil engineering industries the time-lapse camera and control equipment is mounted in a purpose built protective housing powered by solar panels and data accessed remotely via 3G modem. Typical use of such time-lapse is for the communication of project progress to stakeholders and media. Images are recorded remotely, backed up off line and can be progressively accessed on line (website or private intranet) by clients during the course of the project.

SHORT TERM projects conversely take much less time, often requiring the recording of short time intervals for a sequence that could last as little as 15 minutes through to 12 hours or perhaps a weekend.

Ideally time-lapse is used in conjunction with still images when a few seconds or minutes of compelling time-lapse can be shown to demonstrate one or more particular aspects of a special project. This is particularly helpful in the marketing of a project to potential clients eg the showcasing of the work at a trade show.


The Diversity of Time-Lapse
A few seconds of selected time-lapse images from our client portfolio. 

Infrastructure & Construction Time Lapse Showreel | 2018 from Images for Business on Vimeo.


The Importance of Planning: “To chop a tree quickly, spend twice the time sharpening your axe,” – Chinese proverb

Chris acknowledges that in no other aspect of commercial photography is the Chinese proverb, “To chop a tree quickly, spend twice the time sharpening your axe,” more pertinent than when planning a time-lapse assignment. “You cannot over plan for time-lapse,” says Chris.

Often the most important aspect of planning is determining the best vantage point for the shot and the obtaining of any necessary permission(s) to access this shot. “We keep all our specialist access capabilities and qualifications current so that we can promptly get to the most difficult places. You’d be surprised just how many stakeholders can become involved in a client assignment. Our clients trust us to work directly with all stakeholders on their behalf across a very broad range of inputs. We do this to achieve the very best outcomes for their time-lapse assignments. And critically both clients and stakeholders are happy with our communication and processes,” says Chris.

A keen eye is kept on the weather and particularly the orientation of sunrise and sunset to the subject over the span of a year. Other subject dependent observation may also be required for the movement of tides, wind and moon.

Special purpose built, stable mounting platforms are used for the cameras to ensure there is no shake from nearby machinery operations, strong wind or other inclement weather conditions.

The most important aspect of planning is to ensure the shot is properly framed. “We need to envision the end result and see how that hole in the frame will fill as the project progresses. We’ll take a good walk around the area that we are shooting from and to, we’ll imagine the shot and we’ll take a look at the scene to find the best location and composition. In imaging the shot we’re doing exactly what we would do as if we were shooting a single shot. When we do this we also imagine we brought only a single roll of film with only one exposure ! So the shot has to count.”

So too does the attention to detail in postproduction. “We continuously invest in technology to craft the most compelling time-lapse results for our clients and to give us a leading edge in the industry,” concludes Chris.

Talk to our team about the benefits of incorporating time-lapse photography into your next photographic assignment to ensure just the right images are crafted for your business. Call us today on 02 9516 0758.

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Images for Business are professional image makers that specialise in infrastructure and construction imaging. We exist to visually inspire people through perfectly crafted visual content. We cover still, motion, aerial and time-lapse photography for businesses. We offer quality, creativity and solutions, with an easy to deal with approach and results that add financial value to our clients.