Shooting hundreds of images showing time passing in a time-lapse sequence can be wonderful, but you can't put the resulting videos up on your walls. However, it is possible to turn a time-lapse shoot into a single image to print. Creating a time stack image involves shooting a series of photos – just as you would with a time-lapse. But instead of creating a video, you take different areas from individual frames and merge them into a single, striking image that shows the transition, for example, from day to night.
Here we'll explain the basics of setting up your camera for a time-lapse shoot, using a camera with a built-in interval timer. It’s a simple camera technique that you can easily try out from your own home/garden. We’ve captured the fascinating movement of tulip petals throughout an afternoon and evening, but you can apply the same technique to any subject that changes slowly over time, from a melting ice-cream to a day/night landscape sequence. Once done, we’ll go on to merge our frames then produce an eye-catching print for the wall.
Set up your camera on a tripod and choose an angle to shoot from. Keep in mind that the camera will need to stay still for several hours, so an out-of-the-way spot is best. If there's a chance of rain, position your camera undercover or shoot out of a window. A calm day is best, as strong wind can cause unwanted movement in the flower. Make sure you have a fully charged battery. Tulips are fully open around midday to catch the sunlight on their spread petals, so this is when we set up our shot.
If you’re shooting a subject like a flower then try placing a plain background behind it. Not only does this single the flower out from a busy garden background, it also makes it easier to seamlessly combine several shots into one later on. We draped a piece of black cloth behind the flower here, but you could experiment with all kinds of background colours. To keep the background dark we also made sure that no direct sunlight was spilling onto it.