Shooting a Timelapse from day – night can be a nightmare without the proper equipment. For a long time I shot my sunset’s and day – night shots using the Holy Grail LRTimelapse method and making exposure changes and fixing them in post production until I finally got myself a Bulb Ramper. Bulb Ramping when done correctly can create a perfectly smooth transition with minimal post production time. The Final result can turn out to be absolutely fantastic! There are a few options for Bulb Ramping including Magic Lantern, GBTimelapse, the Little Bramper, and the Promote Controller. I’m sure there are many others but these particular ones are the most well known to me personally.
Anyways I’m going to go through the 6 steps again this time in much more detail hopefully to be able to answer any of the questions you may have had from the video above.
Step 1: Setup your Camera on a tripod or slider and choose your composition. It is important to think of your composition as more than just a good looking photo but to imagine how the sun, clouds and any other com-positional pieces are going to change over time. After all you are creating a motion piece and the worst thing is having your camera pointed the wrong way when something epic is happening 5 degree’s away from your field of view.
Step 2: Put your camera in Bulb Mode, and choose an appropriate aperture for your composition. As your camera is on Bulb Mode you won’t be able to choose your shutter speed and your ISO will be controlled through the Promote so your f/stop is the only thing you have creative control over to start with. Next, make sure that your camera is on Single drive mode. This ensures that the Promote will be able to have complete control without any chance of dual photos being taken. And Lastly make sure that you are shooting RAW photos. This is important because as your shot continues your white balance is going to change over time and in post production RAW images give you so much more control over White Balance than JPEG’s. Also make sure your focus is perfect and you are in Manual Focus mode.
Step 3: Connect the Promote controller, and switch it to the Bulb Ramping Mode. Make sure you enable Advanced Bulb Ramping in the Setup Menu, Below are the important Setup Menu options that I use:
Setup 7: Bulb ramping live mods are applied: Across 15 frames, ( I personally choose 15 if I am shooting at an interval longer than 12 and I will change it to 20 or higher if I have a quicker interval)
Setup 8: Keep bulb ramp length on start time change: Yes ( this way if you misjudged the time your exposure is going to start to change, you can stop the timelapse, adjust the starting bramp and everything else will be adjusted accordingly)
Setup 9: Enable Advanced Bulb Ramping: YES
Setup 13: Limit bulb ramping longest exposure: This completely depends on the length of your shot and if you want to be able to see the image before it takes the next one.
These are some of the important settings that I have changed to work better with my shooting situations.
Step 4: Input the values appropriate for your shot. If you have a good general idea of what a day and a night exposure should look like than this should come easily, however the next time you are out on a shoot during a similar condition to a possible shot, take a couple of test shots to have something to base it on.
- The Promote Controller gives you the following options for bulb ramping:
Starting shutter speed: Since your camera is in bulb mode the shutter can be no shorter than 1/20th of a second. However with advanced bulb ramping enabled, if you have an ND filer that you plan on adding, you can bring this exposure up to any speed that will end up being 1/20th of slower with the ND on. However make sure to input the speed based on a photo that does not have an ND on.
- ea ..s : this is where you get to choose your interval.
- Begin ramp in 00h00m: Depending on where you are in the world, how many clouds are in the sky and a ton of other factors this will be the hardest value to choose. Use an app on your smartphone to find out when the sun is going to set and base your judgement on that. If you happen to under/overestimate the timing you can stop the timelapse sequence, and change this to start bramping later or immediately. This is why it is important to have option 8 in the setup menu enabled.
- End ..: This is where you are able to input the ending shutter speed/exposure. The shutter speed can be LONGER than the interval, when the bramp gets to the length of the interval it will start to ramp up ISO’s creating a smooth transition. This can be a difficult exposure to read as you have to input the shutter speed based on a photo at the lowest ISO. This is where I would suggest that you take some practice night shots at a low ISO to get a good idea. Also if you press start the next screen will automatically tell you what ISO it is going to be ramping to so you can double check exactly what your final exposure will be.
- in 00h00m: This is how you tell the promote when the exposure has become completely dark and is not changing anymore.
- Finish Seq in 00h00m: If you want your shot to continue firing after your bulb ramp is complete, this is where you input how much longer you want it to go for.
Exposures: (000) The promote will automatically tell you how many exposures the entire sequence will take. Make sure you have formatted your card and have enough space!
Here are some presets to give you a good starting judgement of what to input for a few popular situations.
This preset is designed for a cityscape day (sunshine) to night (city lights) timelapse exactly like the one in my tutorial video.
Camera Settings: f/9 with no available ND Filters
This preset is designed for a Day to night landscape with a large amount of light pollution from a far away distance.
Camera Settings: f/5.6 with available ND filters to add
This preset is designed for a Day (sunshine) to night (milkyway Dark Sky) timelapse.
Camera Settings: f/2.8 with available ND Filters to add
Please feel free to comment on this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the presets or anything about the settings.
Step 5: Press the Start button, This is where the promote will ask you if you are going to use any ND filters and it will automatically adjust for them and tell you when to take them off. There are a few different options here. You can either Start with an ND on and plan to take it off, End with an ND and be ready to put one on, or Keep an ND on the entire time. There is also an option for up to 3 different ND’s to be added throughout the sequence. This can be very useful if you have a Fader ND or plan to stack multiple ND’s at a time. Once you have this section set up appropriately Press the Start button again. If there are any errors in the sequence the Promote will flash a sign to tell you what you need to change before starting. If everything is ok it will start your timelapse!
Step 6: While shooting if you notice that the exposure is changing a bit too slow or fast you can make live modifications by pressing the up or down directional keys. It lets you choose an amount of ev to change and once you have selected your total press the middle button for it to start taking action. This function can be extremely helpful if for example some clouds cover the horizon making the sun appear to set alot faster than estimated.
In the tutorial above. The only editing I did to the final timelapse was some simple white balance changes over time and constant color correction changes equal through out the entire sequence.
Thanks for reading my Blog! If you are more interested in the post production aspect of making one of these timelapses come to life add a comment and I will try and do a blog post on that in the near future!
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Dynamic Perception l Promote Control