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Tips & Tricks

How To Shoot, Process, & Create A Day-To-Night Transitional Timelapse

By Kishore Sawh on November 24th 2015


I’ve often compared timelapses to the Kardashians, because whatever you may think about them, they exist, and are popular. Like the Kardashians, timelapses aren’t exactly dwindling in numbers either. If anything, they are just evolving to become more complex and more visually entertaining as we become somewhat numb to the standard offerings.

From timelapses came hyperlapses and then came whatever you want to call the witchcraft that Rob Whitworth conjures up for his manner of sense defying lapse videos. But maybe you’re not at his level, and you’re starting off, or looking to boost your offerings in the game. A way to do this is to show a transition from day to night or vice versa. This really gives a different sense of time and overall feel, but it can be a little complex to execute. Luckily for you, photographer/cinematographer Cal Thomson has created a resource to show you how to navigate these murky waters.


We’ve had some great posts from Cal before, where he’s shown us how to shoot a long exposure hyperlapse and then how to achieve super smooth video by removing the warp from Warp Stabilize. He’s a particularly detailed guy and has a good manner for teaching, so you can watch his videos from start to finish and won’t feel lost or patronized.

In his latest, Cal delves into the intricate issues that arise when dealing with a day-to-night transitional timelapse, uncovering the building blocks of creating successful ones with regards to technique in capture and programs in post.

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The basic flow is to shoot in manual using RAW files and exposing more for the highlights as shadows tend to be able to be brought back with more detail, and then importing all images into Lightroom.

The bulk of the work, maybe not in time elapsed, is done here whilst creating a consistent look among the frames. It’s at this point he suggests to import said images into LR Timelapse, which is a 3rd party plugin for Lightroom that helps to create the most seamless timelapse possible. LR Timelapse you’ll see is crucial to his workflow and ultimate success for this, so getting it is a bit of a necessity, but being free to try there’s no harm in doing that.


We always like what Cal has to offer, and the manner with which he offers it. If you’re looking to shoot your first timelapses and do it right, this tutorial should come in handy for you, and the second video below as well, maybe even first.

You can find more from Cal here.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hannes Nitzsche

    Cheers for taking the time to create this video, Cal! Very helpful stuff!

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  2. Brandon Dewey

    thanks for the videos!

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