Ten mistakes, which amateur photographers must avoid in long-term construction timelapse.

If you are at the beginner level in any type of timelapse shooting, your road must be thorny and full of unexpected moments.

You do not have to be an international expert in timelapse when starting your first project. However, if you get into important details and requirements, it can help you to escape from common troubles, create an exciting and quality product and make your client satisfied.

To provide you an easy start, here is a guide for beginners, where we tell you about ten common mistakes made by newbie photographers while creating the timelapse shootings.

Follow our guide to feel like a professional in your job.

Mistake #1 – Confusing Long-Term Timelapse and Short-Term Timelapse

Yes. Long-Term Timelapse and Short-Term Timelapse are intersect between each other and they have the same roots, the new photographers must note the core differences in these both types of shooting.

Long-term timelapse demands thorough pre-production planning (see Mistake #2), constant monitoring over months or even years (see Mistake #8) and can present some personal issues that can suddenly perform (see Mistake #3 and Mistake #5).

If you want to be intelligent in your business spectrum, you have to not to just give your clients a finished product (the final timelapse movie), but also your individual service (interval timelapse videos and on-going site monitoring).

Working with this criterion you can take the payments from your clients not just for the final creative product, but for the monthly subscription and communication too. (watch out Mistake #10)

JPEG vs RAW: Choose the Best Photo Format for Long-Term Timelapse?

Mistake #2 Lack of planning

One wise man told: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. This saying becomes visible in many long-term timelapse projects.

There are no cancel or Ctrl Z buttons or time-machine feature in the real life. On a construction site especially: skips in planning embody in headaches and died opportunities later.

The kinds of questions you need to ask yourself while planning are:

  • What camera and lens set-up will be the most convenient for the project?
  • Will I have comfortable site access for installation of the camera? Can my client provide me with an on-site person contact to do fundamental maintenance?
    What is the best equipment to use?
  • Have I talked to my client and listened to his expectations and vision of the project?
  • Are there major periods of busy activity during the project for which I should change the shooting regime?

To provide you an easy takeoff, we have created the Project Planner to help you ask more of the right questions before you begin your long-term timelapse project.

Mistake #3 – Overworking

Long-term timelapse vary from short-term timelapse in that you have a very low chance to pre-calculate with assurance how long your final movie will be, or how many photos you will need for making a good content.

When deadline comes to produce your final, ready timelapse video, you will understand that many of the photos you have are inappropriate.

Unexpected occasions that can screw up photos include:

  • Bad weather (heavy rain, heavy snowfall, thick fog, dusty wind etc.)
  • Lingering periods of site inactivity (internal works, the server breakdown etc.)
  • Different lighting conditions at different times of the day and different seasons of the year.

To resist this, the best way will be to shoot more photos than you think you might need for the final project.

A warning: uploading terabytes and terabytes of data each month leads to a different problem. Doing this you will probably find your cellular data costs going to rise up to the sun.

To keep the compromise, we suggest you to take ten to thirty-minute intervals between photos. It provides a good balance between a supply of usable photos, and not spending your cellular data budget.

Mistake #4: Failing to test the equipment.

In a long-term timelapse system all the parts are doing their unique work without exception; one badly configured setting or an issue with hardware can affect in weeks or months of unusable or missed photographs.

Even if newbie or amateur photographer can allow themselves mistakes, there is no mercy for error as a professional photographer, especially in construction timelapse, where you have no chance to go back and reshoot.

Nothing might be worse than having to tell your client that you have failed to capture critical junctures in their construction project.

Scrupulously checking and testing your camera and equipment pre- and post-installation to be sure that it is taking and uploading photos properly (see Mistake #8) can save you from the collapse.

Mistake #5. Not including the item “Maintenance” into the project budget.

In the utopian world, your long-term timelapse system would be ‘set-and-forget’, providing you an eternal vacation under the palm trees, with little to no maintenance or monitoring required.

In reality, the great law of meanness is somewhere above your dreams and wishes: spiders making their web over the glass, lightning strikes and other natural phenomenon, technology failure, and lots of other unexpected issues.

Despite how confident you are about your construction timelapse project, we advise budgeting for maintenance visits at least every two-three months.

Using this way of acting, when you do need to perform unforeseen maintenance, it is not subtracting your profits.
A second nice idea is to ask your client to provide an on-site maintenance contact who you can contact to perform basic maintenance like cleaning the glass, and save yourself from a long road to site, that can be away from home.

Mistake #6 – Bad Choice of Camera Location

For the reason you will need to access your equipment throughout the projects, you will seek to put it on an easy to access location.

If you install your unit in a spot that is hard to access or even requires some expenditures (for example, somewhere requiring a scissor lift), that can be a huge waste of your budget and time.

After one wrong step, the simple maintenance tasks like taking out photos from the on-board storage or cleaning the glass suddenly become an expensive trouble.

It is rare luck to have a wide range of choosing where to install the camera, but wherever possible, choose a spot, that will be easily accessed without paying the bills or hiring special equipment.

Mistake #7: Installing inappropriate camera settings.

In a long-term timelapse shooting you will get a huge variation in lighting conditions, so you must work on regime of Aperture Priority.
The other settings should be set to manual. In particular, you need to be completely sure that ISO, color balance and focus are not staying on auto.

Auto ISO can influence on noisy photographs in low-light conditions. Auto color balance can show you its badness when the same sequence includes dawn and dusk photos.

Moreover, auto-focus can cause focus shifting or even result in missed photos, especially if the intervalometer does not hold the trigger down long enough to simultaneously focus hunt and take the photo.

Customize your camera settings to manual will generally give you more quality photographs to work with in post-production.

Mistake #8: Usage of Offline Long-Term Timelapse System

Despite the existence of offline long-term timelapse systems, they are not good enough for two reasons:

Reason #1: if something goes wrong with your camera, you will not know about it until your next visit to the site, meaning you risk losing the weeks or months of photos between onsets.

Reason #2: if you need to view images or change settings, means you need to make another unwanted site visit.
An on-line system Timebox includes a range of invaluable functions that make life effortless:

  • Pro-active status reporting
  • Remote configuration settings
  • Online gallery to view photos

Connected system helps in saving time, reducing the amount of visits and finding out about troubles before they become a huge problem.

You are able to quickly and easily send your client the updates and photos, meaning you can offer and charge the client for an ongoing site monitoring service.

Mistake #9: The absence of Changing Intervals for Periods of Busy Activity and Action

The place of activity and movement in construction timelapse is not just the site.

Sometimes, nothing will change or move for weeks – may be the workers are doing electrical work inside the construction or all the staff has gone on temporary strike.

In other times, for example during a concrete pour, the site will look more like an anthill, because the activity and number of workers increases for ten times.

It is an obligation for great business to communicate with your client about when these periods of action and important events are happening on-site, and speed up or slow down your intervals correspondingly.

Mistake #10: Counting your income according to a final product, not a service

When both you and your customer impatiently look forward to the golden day when you solemnly give them a nailed, incredible timelapse movie, you can think about more things to offer them than a one-off, end-of-project creative product.

No ways, connected long-term timelapse is an important service, which can be used to monitor daily progress of site or a company, resolve legal disputes, and swiftly provide clients with PR and marketing materials for their own investors and stakeholders.

Online gallery will usually also have additional features like a calendar navigation to search through photos, a comparison tool, temperature and weather information (will be needed if a worker tries claiming heat exhaustion on what was a 23° day!).

Usage of these and other useful features imply that you should be charging clients a monthly subscription for using your service and unit, rather than just charging them for the final timelapse movie.

What Will Be the Next?

In case you could escape from these ten common mistakes, you are off to an amazing start, just do not stop doing it at this point.

Broadening your knowledge of long-term timelapse and eternal educating will help you please your clients, build a great professional career with the best reviews, and grow a successful business.
You must educate yourself to be more competent than your contenders; educate yourself further on long-term timelapse by following the helpful resources below:

Choosing the best camera for long-term timelapse, Or, why you don’t need a Nikon D850.
JPEG vs RAW: Which photo format is most convenient for long-term timelapse?
How to shoot long-term timelapse: just take a lot of photos!