MacMost Now 839: iPhone Time-Lapse Photography

You can use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to take time-lapse photography easily with the help of an app. You need to think about which device to use, and how to set it up. Then you have many choices to make in the app settings. You can get the app here:
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 839: iPhone Time-Lapse Photography.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's take a look at taking time-lapse photography with your iPhone.

So this past weekend I used my iPhone to take time-lapse photography of what was supposed to be a big snow storm on Saturday. It didn't really snow all that much but I got a nice day-in-the-life of the park near my house. You can see the snow build up over time. Now I know a lot of people like to take time-lapse photography like this especially when you can post it to social networks and share it with your friends. It is kind of neat. So let me show you how I did this.

The first thing to do is to think about the device you are using. For instance, I used my old iPhone 4S. I still have it as a backup. I use my iPhone 5, of course, for everything everyday. So I don't need the iPhone 4S so it was easy for me to set it up in a window and have it take pictures all day. Now you may want to think about that too. Can you do without your iPhone all day? Maybe you have an iPhone and iPad but you can do without one of them all day. So you want to think about what you are going to use.

The second thing you want to think about is how to hold it steady. It has to be held perfectly steady throughout the time-lapse. It is nice to mount it on a tripod but there is no tripod mount on an iPhone or iPad. But you can get an adapter.

Now I like to use this one. This is one that you can usually find if you search for Case Star although I have seen this part as part of different kits and different tripods and all sorts of things. So you can see it at a lot of places. If you search at Amazon for Case Star this one comes up. I like this one because I bought it years ago. As a matter of fact I bought it all the way back for the iPhone 3GS and the case of the iPhone has changed several times but because of the way this one snaps the iPhone into it, it doesn't matter. It works with all the old iPhones, it works with the current iPhone, and it will probably work with the ones well into the future. A lot of the other ones you buy specifically fit a certain model of iPhone. So if you get a new iPhone you are going to have to get a new way to mount it to a tripod.

Now if you don't have a tripod a great thing about the current iPhone is the fact that it has a flat edge to it. So you can actually sit it in a windowsill and it will actually stay there. For other iPhones and iPads you can find a way to kind of lean it against something or maybe put it in-between a few objects just to hold it in place for your time-lapse.

Now you are going to need an app to be able to take the time-lapse. The one I chose out of the many in the App Store was one called Lapse It. I use Lapse It Pro. This app has all the settings I needed. I can go into Settings here and I was able to change the frame interval, time scale and the resolution. I chose 1080. You can actually do the Full Sensor which will take very large photos that is good for a short time-lapse but something like 1080 or 720 is going to be fine since you are probably going to make a video anyway and you don't want to have to worry about space on your iPhone as it fills up with images.

I have it here taking an image every ten seconds. I like that I can also set it for a schedule so I was able to set it to actually start at sunrise. So I set it up the night before and set it to start at sunrise and I just didn't have to worry about getting up early to start the time-lapse.

Then you have a lot of other settings here. You can encode it to an MP4 file for instance.

When it was time to go I was able to go to the Capture screen and you can hit that red button on the upper left to start a capture and it lets you see all the settings there and actually lets you change them at the last second. There are plenty of settings. Even Focus and Exposure settings especially if you think the lighting and things are going to change over time as the time-lapse takes place.

I like that you can actually just kind of watch the screen as it is taking the photos. If I start Capture here you can see it is going to delay the three seconds to start and then I just took one frame there and then after the ten seconds it will take the second frame in the time-lapse so you can see exactly how it is progressing and I can pause and stop and once I have stopped then I can preview the project.

I can view My Gallery of projects. So I can just view the short one I did and I can actually look at the details. I can also render it or zip it into a Zip file and then sync with iTunes to get all of the photos off of it.

So what I used was one frame every ten seconds and that gave me about 2 1/2 minutes of video at at 30 frames per second when it was all done. It took a while. It took about twenty minutes for it to render all of the those photos. There was just over 4000 photos into an MP4 video but I was really happy with the result and I plan on taking more time-lapse photography when I get the chance.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 13 Responses to “MacMost Now 839: iPhone Time-Lapse Photography”

    6 years ago

    Much prefer the new podcast icon – always thought the old scruffy drawing didn’t convey the really interesting and seriously helpful nature of your podcasts. They’re great – a must watch!!! Thank you!

    6 years ago

    What is that stand called? K Star, case star? Kay star? I can’t find it online at all. Thank you.

      6 years ago

      Case Star. Search Amazon for “Case Star Tripod” and it comes right up.

    6 years ago

    Great find – thanks for the great heads up!

    Carlos Rivera
    6 years ago

    Just a minor suggestion if you are going to use your iPhone for time lapse video. Put the iPhone in airplane mode that way no incoming calls, notifications, reminders, etc. will come in could disrupt the flow of the video capture.

      6 years ago

      Good idea. In my case I was using an old iPhone without a mobile connection. Same as an iPad or iPod touch. But I suppose you can still receive messages if you don’t do this.

    Michael Dunlop
    6 years ago

    Presumably the device is plugged into the mains to keep it charged????

    Thanks for all the excellent videos Gary – always something new to learn or explore!

    Eric Byrne
    6 years ago

    Hi Gary. Thanks for the time lapse recording tutorial. I think this was asked many times so my apologies but how are you recording the screen of your iOS device?

    Paul Thompson
    6 years ago

    Excellent video. I hope it will work on my iPod; I’ll give it a try!
    Thanks for the info.

    Wayne Garriepy
    6 years ago

    Cool Gary! As always and so consistently, you come through with great stuff. That’s why I subscribe and others who value creativity and productivity should also.

    6 years ago

    Really enjoy your work, thought I saw you a while back – but with that park, we live in the same hood. Going to use this alot.
    Thanks, Matt

Comments Closed.