Skip navigation

This was screened at the James River Filmmakers Forum on March 6th, in Richmond, VA

Also shown was “Eye of the Beholder” and “Lunacy:Chasing the Moon”


Allow me to clear something up about the lens mounts for the Canon EOS 7D and EOS 5dmk2.

I’ve owned a Canon EOS 7D since February 2010 and I’m looking at buying another Canon, the EOS 5Dmk2. I have a bunch of APS-C/EF-S lenses for my 7D.

The 7D takes EF and EF-S mount lenses. The 5DmkII takes only EF lenses.

So a lens from a 5DmkII will work on a 7D, but a lens purchased specifically for the 7D (i.e. APS-C) will not work well on a 5DmkII.

They will fit, but they will vignette (fancy way of saying your picture will be smaller than your field of view) due to the 5DmkII having a larger sensor than the 7D.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the price of the 5DmkII was going to drop from $4700 to $2500… or else I’d have been more careful and bought EF lenses from the start.

Anyways.. that’s why I’m posting this.. just in case you’re googling around, maybe you’ll find this and it’ll save you from buying the wrong lenses.

Why am I buying a 5DmkII when I already have a 7D? The 5DmkII is a full frame camera with a larger sensor. It has a naturally wider field of view. It captures more light and can run at much higher ISO’s than the 7D with much less ISO noise.

Entry for Vimeo Awards Experimental category. Unique time-lapse set to dramatic music.

Music used with permission courtesy of BigNic

Filmed and edited by Daniel Lowe

Assateague Island Lighthouse with Big Dipper
Hatteras Lighthouse with Milky Way
Hatteras Lighthouse, clouds and stars
Bodie island light, Milky Way
The Bodie Island light is currently undergoing a reconstruction process.
Turn to Clear Vision
bonus – a moment of photography Zen called “Turn to Clear Vision”:

How-to:Back Seat Bungie Time-Lapse

Hello Daniel,
I’m finishing up a anthropology paper on online video communities and I need a few more quotes for it, so I was wondering if you had a couple of minutes to answer two questions I have:

“What was the main feature/attraction of vimeo that caused you to start uploading your videos here?”
“How important is the community aspect for you on vimeo?”

Thanks so much for your time Daniel (by the way I loved your All Stars, All Night timelapse).

-Ravi Carlson


Hey Ravi. Thanks for watching my stuff.

Vimeo attracted me originally because it was an insanely good service, technically speaking. YouTube stops at 480p, but Vimeo’s native format is 1280×720 (Blu-Ray quality). And they allow you to upload like 700mb a week for free? Sold. I signed up immediately.

What I DIDN’T know is that Vimeo, for lack of a better phrase, would change my life. It gave me a ready-made outlet for my desire to be a filmmaker. I could research what cameras, software and techniques other people were using.

Once you get started actually making films, it’s like a powerful drug… People give you great feedback… you can’t stop, it’s never enough, and you always want to do something better than you did last time. You’re always trying to catch up to that cool, new, eye-popping clip you just watched.

The Pro service was only $60 a year, and allows you to upload up to 5 Gigabytes/week of high-quality video, and to upgrade your format to 1920×1080. It’s a bargain, I think.

This is pixel-for-pixel, the highest quality online entertainment available. But that’s just my opinion.

I went down to Yorktown very early this morning to do time-lapse, and I just happened upon a 3 masted sailing ship that was docked on the river….

"The Peacemaker", Tall Ship at Sunrise.

"The Peacemaker" Tall Ship at Sunrise. Yorktown, VA.

"The Peacemaker", Tall Ship at Sunrise. Yorktown, VA

Hey Daniel,

Generally, how are you doing your timelapses? I have the Canon Rebel T2i/550, and I can only record for 10minutes (4GB) at a time before I have to push record again, and with a 16gb card, thats about 40 minutes. My camera also tends to start getting pretty hot after recording for longer than 1.5 hours…Can the 7D record straight to a harddrive or a computer? Or are you doing things like I am where I’m baby sitting the camera and changing out SD cards and batteries?



You’re thinking video, which is the hard way to do it. With an HD-SLR, you’re not taking video continuously.. you’re taking still photos and then animating them with QuickTime Pro (or another program like VirtualDub or Adobe After Effects)… this allows you higher image quality than 1920×1080 and much greater flexibility with post-processing.

So.. you’ll need an intervalometer or a laptop in order to time the shots. I have a Satechi intervalometer that I bought from Philip Bloom’s Amazon store for $70. Order it ahead of time, it will take 8 days to arrive unless you live in California.

You can hook the Canon 7D straight up to a laptop with the included USB cable. I suspect the T2i has the same interface.  In most *internal* aspects, the 7D and the T2i are basically the same camera.

That allows you to completely control every aspect of the camera; it can function as an intervalometer, and you can record to the camera, laptop hard drive, or both.

I don’t have a laptop, so I use the intervalometer. The laptop offers the additional benefit of showing you the image in much greater detail, allowing you to fine tune exposure and focus.

For daytime shots, I take one picture with aperture priority at the lowest ISO that lights the subject as desired; then I’ll mirror those settings in manual mode.

Changing light; like a sunset, is a whole diff ball-game, it’s 100% aperture priority with hacks to reduce flickering. Go visit Tom Lowe’s site at and visit the forums for a LOT more information on this issue.

Picking an interval:

For daytime shots in normal light.. it depends on how fast your “subject” is moving. But for arguments sake, start with 10 or 12 seconds. That’s a good interval for clouds. If your subject is a group of people doing something active, or perhaps car traffic…you’ll want to use shorter intervals, even down to 1-second intervals sometimes.

For night time shots, I have to take longer exposures, anywhere from 3-30 seconds. I give the 7D at least 2 seconds to record the exposure before activating the shutter again.

So…For a 30 second exposure, I usually set a 32 or 33 sec interval… For an 8 second exposure I’ll set a 10 second interval, etc.

My settings for getting the stars: Manual, 10 to 30 sec exposure with anywhere from 240 to 1600 ISO; AWB=flourescent (more clear) or tungsten (more hazy or sodium background light).   The more haze and background light, the lower the ISO.  If I’m away from background light, and the sky is really clear, I’ll crank up the ISO to try and get more stars. 

At 800 ISO, away from city light and with a very clear sky (and no moon!) you will can photograph the Milky Way galaxy moving through the sky. EDIT: I’ve now realized you can use much higher ISOs (up to 1600), but I still don’t like the noise beyond about 640-800 ISO.

When I’m taking a lot of images, doing time-lapse, I have, in the past recorded my images in Large JPEG and not RAW mode*. I have a 32 Gb card, but RAW images are like 20mb each, way too big for the 1000’s of images I’m usually taking.

Postscript: now I’ve changed to using RAW; I have purchased a 64Gb CF card.. but let’s not get confused, RAW vs. JPEG is another entire discussion

Check your Auto White Balance (AWB) setting. You NEVER want this set to “Auto” for time-lapse, or else your frames will flicker and show different shades of color.

Start with something simple. Go out on a cloudy day and take 240 JPEGS of the clouds going by at intervals of 10 seconds. You can use Av mode, Aperture Priority, if that makes it easier. The reason not to use AV mode is that it can cause your timelapse to flicker if the light changes up and down.. like if clouds are rolling overhead.. But don’t worry about that too much your first few times out. Just try to get the mechanics right at first.

You’ll want to process these photos with image software (I use Digital Photo Pro, which is what was included with the camera). This is where you can tune the color, and trim and resize for your final output format.

This is part of the flexibility I was talking about. For example in my clip All Stars, All Night, I made 2 scenes from different areas of the same single set of photos.

You’ll have to purchase QuickTime Pro ($29), but it’s the best money you’ll ever spend, because it can take these image sequences and animate them at various framerates, creating MOV files. Later on, If you really want to shell out the big bucks, Adobe After Effects can create lovely MOVs directly from sequences RAW files.

After that, you’ll have a MOV video file, at that point it’s in the hands of Final Cut Pro or your video editing software of choice.