Timelapse photography is nothing new, but over the last few years we've seen a number of gadgets and apps being developed to help us create our own timelapse images.
One such app that has been making quite a lot of a stir is Triggertrap Mobile. Triggertrap has proved popular due to a quite extensive feature set that takes the idea behind basic timelapse photography and extends it. Used properly, Triggertrap makes accomplishing advanced and memorable timelapse techniques much easier.
The app works with your SLR camera and your iOS enabled gadget (iPhone, iPad etc). To get started you'll need a Triggertrap Mobile dongle, and a connection cable that fits your camera. It currently supports around 300 cameras.
Once you've got this, you can begin shooting...
How to start capturing timelapses with Triggertrap
There are four stages - from planning your shoot, to assembling the finished product. Haje Jan Kamps is Triggertrap's creator and a pretty accomplished photographer himself. I asked him to share some tips about using Triggertrap to get the best results at each stage...
Stage 1: Planning Your Timelapse
Stage 1 is where you do the necessary planning for your timelapse set. What do you want to achieve? Things to consider are length of timelapse, the setup considerations for the scene you want to shoot, and what you want the timelapse to cover in the final product.
Haje: "Most video is played at 30 frames per second, so when you assemble your timelapse, take the number of photos you have, and divide by 30 to find out how long your assembled timelapse will take. If you take one photo every five seconds for an hour, you end up with 720 frames; once your video is assembled, you end up with 24 seconds of footage. In effect, you have sped up time 150 times - like magic! "
Stage 2: Setup
Setup is where you prepare your camera, accessories and Triggertrap for the capture stage...
H: Set-up is pretty simple no matter what type of timelapse you are doing: once you've found a great location, ensure that your camera is firmly mounted on a sturdy tripod. You'll usually get the best results if you set your camera to manual focus (your scene isn't going to change anyway, so there's no real reason to risk some of your photos falling out of focus), and your lens to a fixed aperture.
We like to use Aperture Priority mode (Av or A, on most SLR cameras), to ensure that the aperture doesn't change between exposures. The camera will select the best shutter speed, meaning that your photos will come out more or less correctly exposed regardless of how the lighting situation changes."
Stage 3: Capturing the Timelapse
This is the phase where you'll be using the app, and the magic happens. Haje recommends that new users start with the 'basic' timelapse mode first...
H: "The most common way of doing timelapse photography is to do a 'normal' timelapse - or 'vanilla' timelapse, as we like to call it at Triggertrap. In a standard timelapse, all you need to do is to choose the interval between each shot. The interval you choose depends on the type of subject you are photographing. If you are creating a timelapse of a building being built, you might find that taking a shot every 24 hours is sufficient. If you want to capture an ice-cube melting or a sun rising, an exposure every couple of seconds is probably the right way to go."
Stage 4: Assembling Your Timelapse
Once you have taken your timelapse images, you need to assemble them together into a collection which makes up the timelapse. This usually (but not always) means creating a video in the style of a slideshow...
H: "There are many different ways of assembling timelapses, depending on the computer you use. A quick internet search for 'how to assemble a timelapse video' plus either 'mac' or 'windows' should put you in the right direction!"
Some of Triggertrap's 'Advanced' Timelapse modes and what they do
Once you've gained some experience with Triggertrap's basic timelapse mode, you may want to try some of the others. These include...
Eased Timelapse - a mode especially designed to add 'acceleration' to your timelapses. Instead of taking photos at fixed intervals, Eased Timelapse mode lets you choose whether you want the timelapse to accelerate, decelerate, or both, with several different acceleration 'profiles'; everything from a relatively gentle acceleration, to much faster.
Bulb Ramping Timelapse - Instead of leaving the exposures to the camera, the bulb-ramping timelapse takes control of the camera's shutter, too. By setting your camera to Bulb mode (a shutter mode where your camera takes a photo for the duration the shutter button is pressed), Triggertrap Mobile can control not only the intervals, but also the duration of each individual exposure. So by selecting the start and end exposure, you can ensure that your exposure changes smoothly and gradually throughout the timelapse set. This allows you, for example, to create seamless sunset timelapses.
Distance Lapse - It doesn't use time as it's triggering interval. Instead of taking a photo every so many seconds or minutes, it uses the built-in GPS chip to work out how far you have moved since your last photo. Once it hits the threshold, it takes another photograph. So, for example, a road trip, it wouldn't matter if you were stuck in a traffic jam or speeding down the motorway; Triggertrap would capture an equally spaced timelapse set for the journey.
In setting up, it's certainly not the most intuitive of photographic tools I've tried. I found getting it to initially work with my SLR to be quite a challenge. But, asides from this, I have no complaints. The application has done everything it says it would without a hitch.
SummaryTriggertrap is definitely a promising app for intermediate to advanced level photographers who are comfortable experimenting with the more complicated capabilities of their cameras. Obviously, if you have no interest in timelapse photography, then this not the app for you.
Triggertrap may also appeal to videographers with an understanding of SLR photography, who want to try creating a different kind of video. Overall, the value of Triggertrap comes down to users really making an effort to learn how to use the app to it's full potential.
And if you are willing to do that, we'd recommend it to you.