Yuri A Jones - A Caribbean-based fine art photographer
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Day-to-Night timelapse – A first attempt

This timelapse video needed to be different from my earlier failed attempts. I wanted to achieve a higher level of difficulty and figured that I should capture the transition from day to night.

What I mean is, I would start shooting at or before the sunset and continue way after the sunset and the blue hour. At least, that was the plan…

Daytime

Ideally, I should have started shooting well before the sunset, but I started late.

However, there’s a bright side to starting late. Because the sun was already low in the sky and giving off a softer light, I could shoot into the sun without fear of getting ruined shots due to a scene with a high dynamic range.

Shooting into the sun means having the sun in your frame while shooting. These scenes are usually an unpleasant mix of very bright parts and very dark sections and they are referred to scenes with a high dynamic range scene. 

So I chose a composition that would feature the sun, but also have a good view of the main road to capture light trails of the vehicles during the night.

Then, I took a few test shots and chose the settings that gave me a relatively evenly balanced image (that is, a good representation of both light and dark).

Nighttime

Those of you who are beginners in photography must be wondering:

“But how do you choose settings that are favorable for the current daytime scene and the coming night scene?”

Warning – more technical talk ahead! 

This is why it was important for me to use Aperture Priority mode as opposed to Manual mode. This mode allowed me to choose my aperture, and forced the camera to choose the fastest shutter speed necessary to create an even exposure.

Shooting in Aperture Priority mode meant that as it got darker, the camera would automatically use longer shutter speeds in order to achieve similar exposure results.

Note: this is not the only method to capture a day to night timelapse. In fact, it is not even the best method. But as a test, I thought it would be make for a good learning experience.

In order to get the cleanest image, I used ISO 100, and I chose an aperture of f/8 to achieve a good balance between sharpness and depth of field throughout the image. 

Depth of field is the effective range of focus that allows an image to appear acceptably sharp from the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in the scene.

The result

After choosing the exposure settings, I entered the intervalometer menu and selected the following:

  • an interval of 20 seconds between each shot,

  • Maximum of 500 images.

This interval is fine for the images that require short shutter speeds. However the longer exposures (for example, 30 seconds) would pose a problem for the camera. I knew the camera would compensate for the 30 second exposures required for the night photo.

I just didn’t know how… until the end!

After almost 3 hours of continuous shooting, the sequence ended, not with 500 images, but with 314.

Editing was somewhat tricky though. My editing process for timelapse images is simple: thoroughly edit the first frame in the series and apply those edits to the remaining images. This works like a charm when all the images depict a daytime scene or a nighttime scene.

However, since this video features a transition from day to night, I had to be careful to not use edits for the daytime images that could potentially hurt the nighttime images.

The result is a 10 second long timelapse video that slowed down by 50% for the final cut. shown below: