Time LapseInterval Photography

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Who hasn't marveled at a time-lapse photograph of a flower opening, a series of shots of the moon marching across the sky, or one of those extreme time-lapse picture sets showing something that takes a very, very long time, such as a building under construction.

You probably won't be shooting such construction shots, unless you have a spare 40D you don't need for a few months (or are willing to go through the rigmarole of figuring out how to set up your camera in precisely the same position using the same lens settings to shoot a series of pictures at intervals). However, other kinds of time-lapse photography are entirely within reach.

Although the EOS 40D can't take time-lapse/interval photographs all by itself, if you're willing to tether the camera to a computer (a laptop will do) using the USB cable, you can take time-lapse photos using the Digital Photo Professional software furnished with your camera. There's more information on using this software in Chapter 8.

If you want freedom to shoot anywhere, the TC-80N3 is an affordable add-on (around $135) with much more than the self-timer and remote control features mentioned previously. In fact, it has 15 different modes with an interesting array of delay/interval combinations. For example, you can set the self-timer for a specific period of time, then take a specified number of exposures at one-second intervals. Or, you can set a delay period that must elapse before the 40D begins a long exposure. Finally, you can choose to shoot a set number of pictures at intervals from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds.

Here are some tips for effective time-lapse photography:

■ Use AC power. If you're shooting a long sequence, consider connecting your camera to an AC adapter, as leaving the 40D on for long periods of time will rapidly deplete the battery.

■ Make sure you have enough storage space. Unless your memory card has enough capacity to hold all the images you'll be taking, you might want to change to a higher compression rate or reduced resolution to maximize the image count.

Make a movie. While time-lapse stills are interesting, you can increase your fun factor by compiling all your shots into a motion picture using your favorite desktop movie-making software.

■ Protect your camera. If your camera will be set up for an extended period of time (longer than an hour or two), make sure it's protected from weather, earthquakes, animals, young children, innocent bystanders, and theft.

■ Vary intervals. Experiment with different time intervals. You don't want to take pictures too often or less often than necessary to capture the changes you hope to image.

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