It is amazing how a time-lapse project can (partially) consume life while it is clicking away. I wrote down a few thoughts over the few months that the orchid was growing. I narrowed them down and edited them to share in this lessons from an orchid post.
- All good things require patience. Like a da Vinci painting, the time-lapse did not appear over night. There were layers of paint that had to be laid down in a precise order to get to the final painting. In this instance, the orchid did all of the painting. There was a process of keeping up with the orchid and making sure the camera was functioning properly over the period of two months. My thoughts were sort of consumed by the process. Are the batteries going to last over night or while I am away for the day? The batteries did have a tendency to die (more than once) around three in the morning!
- If I had a deadline, I was not going to meet it. This was my first major time-lapse project. I sort of did it, because, like Forest Gump – “I just felt like running.” When the project first began, I had no idea it was going to turn into basically a three month process. I was figuring the buds would open in a couple days.
- Along those lines, I had to anticipate where the buds were going to open in the frame and how big they would get. I may have had an idea of what the orchid was doing from my visual observations, but in all reality things turned out different than what I originally thought. So, each day was like reaching the ocean for Forest Gump. I made it that far, I may as well just keep going. The project would be finished when it got finished.
- The project itself actually ended before I anticipated. The camera battery died, rather unexpectedly, while I was gone one morning. I returned, and went about doing other things, thinking the camera was still clicking away. After a few hours went by, I realized I had not heard the flash spool up nor the shutter click as I had gotten accustomed to hearing at the regular intervals. I had intended to continue the photo process for a slightly longer period, even possibly to bud eight. At least, I had enough of the bud seven sequence to call it quits and move onto the photo editing process.
- Making deliberate decisions is a must when timing is critical. As I mentioned, I was somewhat learning to anticipate what the orchid was going to do (as well as the camera equipment). I either had to stick with the decision I made or decide very quickly to make another adjustment before the camera clicked another frame with a poor decision. That would be a frame I had to throw out. I could not go back to create a frame that I did not have. Every decision I made would affect the whole sequence of photos after that, and also became a reason for delays during the post processing phase where one decision could alter all 2,913 photos.
- This emphasizes the phrase photographers use – “make sure to get the shot correct in camera.” Any mistake in a frame would (and did) stick out like a sore thumb. If a bud was slightly out of focus, I had to adjust for it rather quickly before it got worse. No amount of post processing can fix an error made in camera. The original photo count went from 3,429 to 2,913 rather quickly as I threw out frames. Even then, 2,913 photos was a large number of photos to post process (even with syncing settings).
- I found out that I am not one that can sit in front of a computer editing a large number of photos. I would much rather be out taking pictures with my camera than be chasing down bread crumbs of pixels that need to be retouched in photos. Emphasis goes back to – get the shot correct in camera. Some moments made me wonder if I was being OCD, and I also realized I was being meticulously messy leaving behind some bread crumbs of pixels.
- During the editing process, there were moments I got distracted. This was both good and bad. Some moments I needed a distraction to pull me away from the computer after sitting for hours. Other moments, I was right in the middle of an important retouch and just wanted the distraction to go away.
- The importance of visual distractions in photos and videos also became more apparent to me throughout the process of editing and compiling the time-lapse. I made several decisions to edit photos. Simply, when the time-lapse sequence played, something stuck out that I did not see when I looked at the still image. I am always looking for visual distractions when I look through the view finder, but this does not mean I am always aware that something is actually going to be a visual distraction, especially when compiled into a time-lapse.
- Details that may not even be noticed are important to take care of. Someone may notice them! It is worth the extra time and effort to make sure every detail is flawless.
- The final lesson I will share has to do with the fact that everything will work out in the end. There were moments when I felt like I was not accomplishing anything, like time was wasting away so to speak. I became impatient a couple times wondering when the bud was ever going to open or when I was ever going to finish editing a sequence of photos. I just kept going. Eventually, the time-lapse came to a completion.
- There are certain limitations that cannot be pushed. Whether it was: battery capacity for the flash, computer operating speed, or my own need to sleep during the night. These factors played into the timing and speed of things happening.
These are some of the lessons I learned from the Orchid Time-lapse. I am glad that I decided to setup the camera equipment back in February to document the event!