You probably didn’t know this, but most DSLRs these days come with a nifty little feature called Interval Timer Shooting that let’s you continuously take photos at certain time intervals. This could be very helpful if you ever wanted to do a time-lapse of your day, which I have done and it’s super funny (see below). But I find this also to be my new favorite way to be in more photos with my child without involving another photographer, or my husband. And that is very important to me, given that 99% of the time I am on the other side of the lens.
Please note, these are my camera settings, for my Nikon D7100. I do not know the settings for a Canon, but I am sure that they would be similar.
Here is my quick how-to guide on how I use my camera to be in more pictures with my child
1. Figure out what and where you want to shoot
I will not focus this article on the basics of photography such as light and composition but in short, there are a few things you should be mindful of. Find a bright spot with good natural light (like a window or sliding doors or even your backyard) and place your child where you would want to shoot. With toddlers or even younger kids who may not be willing to sit in one place, give them something to do, or you can even use a teddy or a doll in their place to focus on. Once you are ready to jump into the scene, just remove the teddy and sit in its place. I usually do this when I catch my daughter already being in the middle of something, like putting together a puzzle, or in her tub like I did last time, then I set up my camera and get into the frame. Now, I don’t know this for sure, but I believe my lens auto focuses even when we move, so its continuously tracking our motion and auto-focusing for each shot it takes. I do a ton of takes, and end up with only a couple good shots. To me, its worth the trouble. You will probably want to use a tripod too (I use this simple Manfrotto tripod) or set your camera on a solid surface like a chair or table. Since I shoot in manual mode, I set my aperture to something wide but not too wide. Most of the times it’s a f 2.8. I figure out the ISO and Shutter Speed accordingly to properly expose her face. If you are shooting in Auto, your camera will do this for you (although I have never tried this in Auto, so to be honest I am not sure what will happen, especially with your camera’s pop up flash. This is where I should tell you that shooting in Manual is your best bet and you should definitely give it a try! After some research. Or ask me!)
2. Set your Camera to Interval Timer Shooting
Go to your Shooting Menu and scroll down to Interval Timer Shooting. Here you will need to select the time to start shooting and the interval during which the shutter will release. If your camera’s clock is set to the correct time and time zone, you can chose the Start Time option here and pick the hours and minutes when the shooting will begin. I usually select the option Now instead, because I don’t necessarily mind the camera to start going off right away, as long as I have the focal point set and focused on where I will be, and it takes less time than picking out hours and minutes! Usually I set my kid where I know she will stay for this sequence and focus my lens on her. When I join her, I make sure her and I are on the fame plane, or on one line so to speak: she is either facing me directly at the same angle as I am to the camera, or I sit right next to her and make sure our heads are close together or touching.
3. Select Your Interval
Once you select the time your shutter will start releasing, you will be prompted to select your time intervals. Here you will need to jump through three time slots – hours, minutes and seconds. I usually leave it on 5 seconds, as you can see in the screenshot below:
4. Select Number of Shots Camera will Take
After setting your interval you will want to tell the camera when to stop shooting, after how many shutter releases. Mine is set to 500 shots total, and it’s completely overboard but I know that out of 30-40 shots I take, I may only get 2-3 good ones. I am totally OK with shooting a bunch. And I usually stop the timer (turn my camera off) 40-50 shots in.
5. Ready, set go!
You are ready to go now. Woohoo!!! Select On and the camera will start the countdown to the next interval (of 5 seconds) to release the shutter. Get in there with your baby and do whatever it is you want to document. We played legos, ate some watermelon and bathed together! Once you think you are good, just turn your camera off. Now, download images and laugh your butt off at what you just took. Trust me, it gets easier and you get better the more you play with this. Have fun!
My samples of using Interval Timer Shooting
I made this time lapse video by putting the images I took together in iMovie 🙂