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Tips & Tricks

How To Shoot A Long Exposure Hyperlapse | Cal Thomson

By Kishore Sawh on January 29th 2015


Strangely, I’m forever being bombarded with hyperlapse videos. Or perhaps not strangely, since there is something intrinsically addictive about watching time and movement pass quicker than the real-time clock allows. A hyperlapse is, at its core, a timelapse where the camera doesn’t remain stationary, but is continually moved around as it captures multiple exposures over time. Due to traditional timelapses being stationary, it’s often hard to get a good sense of scale or feel for the environment – at least compared to what you can with a hyperlapse.

The concept of a hyperlapse isn’t exactly a new one, and now there are even quite decent apps on your mobile phone that allows you to take hyperlapses that actually look quite good. This may suggest hyperlapses are easy, and while they are straightforward in theory, proper execution is necessary from the shooting to the post processing, and that takes planning and know how.


While the phone hyperlapse apps are good, they’re not great, and there’s nothing quite like the clarity and dynamic range that you’ll get from a ‘proper’ camera. Photographer Cal Thompson will show you how he achieves his timelapses, particularly long exposure hyperlapses. This is especially good for those of you who aren’t getting really intense with your hyperlapses, or just wetting your feet.

The equipment you’ll require isn’t very elite, and you likely have it all already. Here, Cal is shooting on a Canon 6D, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and using the Manfrotto 501 Fluid Head tripod, and ND filters. (You could also add an intervalometer to your arsenal to reduce camera shake and make your life a hell of a lot easier – some may say it’s a necessity). As hyperlapses do require movement across a large area (typically laterally), to make it look smooth, you’ll want to move the camera in equal distance intervals, and you can use a piece of chalk and a tape measure to mark out your tripod movements, or, as Cal suggests, use your shoe to measure.

[REWIND: Mauna Kea Heavens II – Space Laser Timelapse in 4K!]


Cal does, however, go on to show you how to make hyperlapses handheld if you must, by using the gridlines on your camera to line up your shots. While it’s not ideal, sometimes it may be worth trying if you’re out and have no tripod accessible. With this kind and amount of movement, your shots aren’t always going to be exactly level, especially hand held, so post processing comes into play to a large extent.


The general rule for timelapses and hyperlapses is to shoot in RAW so you can make all the adjustments you need to your images even if you export them later as JPEGs to be combined into the hyperlapse. Cal shoots in RAW, imports all his images into Lightroom,  adjusting one and then applying those mods to all other images in the sequence, and then exports them as JPEGS, where they will then be loaded into Adobe After Effects.

He then guides you on how to use After Effects to build your timelapse, using stabilization to polish your final video – which seems easy when he does it. Even if your version of the software doesn’t have image stabilizing option/plug-in, Cal shows you how to manually add stabilization, which is actually quite impressive.

You can find more from Cal on his YouTube Chanel and his site.

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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. Graham Curran

    I love this stuff.

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  2. Jason Boa

    Very interesting -thanks for sharing

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  3. Bill Bentley

    I know it’s just a tutorial and not for a competition, but I found the very bright sun reflection in the first sequence and the up close capture of moving cars in a later sequence very distracting.

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  4. Tosh Cuellar

    takes quite a bit of patience and time, the latter of which I don’t have much of… still very interesting

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  5. Basit Zargar

    Nice article

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    Great article and fantastic tips on how to create some amazing footage!

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  7. David Hall

    This is interesting but I just don’t have the patients.

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  8. Brandon Dewey

    very interesting

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