Quick Tip: Use ND Filters to Add Motion Blur For Smooth Timelapses
It was the English art critic John Berger who once said, “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.” Timelapse photography gives to see time beyond the realm of normal daily life. The ability to compress time into bite-sized segments has been used from everything to blooming flowers to day-night cityscape transitions and star tracking.
Due to the fast shutter speeds, daytime timelapses are unusually characterized by a staccato, or stop motion-like effect; whereas dusk or nighttime sequence have a smoother flow to them. New Zealand company Syrp, best known for their Genie line of motion control heads, provides a quick tip to add motion blur to timelapse sequence using variable ND Filters.
Variable ND filters are essential in this technique, as they allow you to dial in the level of darkness to your image. The Syrp Super Dark variable ND Filter provides the same optically quality as their standard variable ND filter, while providing an additional 2-stops of light stopping power (8 vs 10).
The staccato effect used with fast shutter speed, make your timelapse footage flicker and stutter. The fluid effect caused by an ND filter blends movement between frames allowing for a more cohesive, natural look. Neither technique is the ‘correct’ for every single project, but they can be used for creative purposes to express a feeling when telling your story.