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Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D – gear & settings.

Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D – gear & settings guide.

This is a how to instructions guide for shooting long exposure photography and time lapse photos with Canon 550D. Hence the title, long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D. 😉

Timelapse photography allows us to see processes that would normally appear very subtle to the human eye, but when captured, enables us to see that process much more pronounced – such as a beautiful sunset, a blossoming flower, or melting ice. Below is an example, capturing the sunset in Norway. If you would like to try a timelapse, please read on – it is very easy to do once you know how to, and very impressive to your audience! – Nicole Lisa Photography

Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D – Example:

Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D. Timelapse Settings: 15 sec intervals / 1403 pictures (using a aputure timer)
Edited in Adobe Premiere (click here to learn more about Adobe Premiere Pro.)

Music: Morcheeba – Public Displays of Affection


“The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.”

-Steven Pinker


Long exposure over 30 seconds photo – example. HOT TIP: To create star trails you need to locate the north star, as the trails will circle around this landmark.
Long exposure star trails at the ruins. Nicole Lisa Photography.
Long exposure star trails at the ruins. Nicole Lisa Photography. Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D.


– Keen to try it out yourself? YES! If so, you will need:




Aputure Timer – Camera Remote Control Shutter: For Canon 350D, Canon 400D, Canon 450D, Canon 500D, Canon 550D, Canon 600D, Canon 650D, Canon 700D & Canon 1100D. Canon models are called REBEL in the USA, Kiss in Japan and EOS D in other parts of the world – to clear that up in case you were wondering. 🙂

– This will allow you to set preferred intervals, which will automatically take pictures – allowing you to create the perfect timelapse. This one is especially suited for this Canon model. Click on the link or image to learn more about timers.



Vista Explorer 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Tripod Bag

– Stability is king when it comes to creating timelapses, even the smallest gust of wind will ruin your timelapse. This tripod is very stable, and is very easy to use – making a timelapse look professional. Click on the image or link to see more tripods.


A DSLR camera:

Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)
– The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT is an exceptionally small and lightweight camera designed for fresh digital SLR photographers.



Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
– This is the Canon macro lens with the best reviews on Amazon.

“The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is the first mid-telephoto macro lens to include Canon’s sophisticated Image Stabilization. With the highest quality optics available, combined with near-silent Ultrasonic focusing and life-size close-up capabilities without an adapter, the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is simply unrivaled. The Hybrid Image Stabilization Technology effectively compensates for both angular and shift camera shake during close-up shooting. The lens was developed to expand users’ photographing range and allow a wider range of users to easily enjoy macro photography.”

Click here to read more about the macro lens on Amazon.


Macrophotograph – example:
Macrophotograph example - photo by Luc Viatour (Wikimedia Commons)
MACROPHOTOGRAPH EXAMPLE – photo by Luc Viatour (Wikimedia Commons). Information about the photo and how it was captured: “Made using a lens at its maximum 1:1 reproduction ratio, and a 18x24mm image sensor, the on-screen display of the photograph results in a greater than life-size image.” LOOKS PRETTY AMAZING, RIGHT? HOW ABOUT COMBINING MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY WITH TIMELAPSE? THAT WOULD CERTAINLY CREATE SOME UNIQUE RESULTS.




Transcend 64 GB High Speed Memory Card: To do long-lasting timelapses you need a high speed, high capacity memory card. This will ensure that your camera does not run out of memory at that crucial time – ruining your whole timelapse. Believe me, it happens… and it is incredibly annoying. Personally, I use this memory card, but there are many others that will do the trick. Click on the image or here to learn more about this type of memory card and to see other models.


What do you need to make a timelapse

These days all high-quality tv-programmes and documentaries are riddled with amazing timelapse photography. This article “Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D”, a how to guide, lets you understand just how they do it – and even teaches you how to have a go at it yourself. Here is a description of the items you will need to create your own timelapse or shoot long exposure over 30 seconds.


1. A DSLR camera

2. A timer device (available from the link above, for your make of camera). My camera is a Canon EOS (click this link to learn more about the camera – opens in a new window), and so I use the timer displayed above (Aputure Timer), which works perfectly and is very easy to use.

Alternatively; you can use the software CD that came with your camera, which usually has timing software on it. However, this mean you always need to have a laptop with you, as opposed to the timer, which you can take anywhere.

3. A tripod (available from the link above). It is very important to keep the camera completely still throughout the timelapse, any movement of the camera will effectively ruin the timelapse, you will see an example of this later)

4. A good location: choose a location where changes in the environment are occuring – this can be places where there are many people, a sunset/sunrise, changing tides, moving clouds etc)

How to set up your camera

  • Once you have chosen a suitable location, mount your camera on the tripod (or a stable area).
  • Auto focus on the image you will be taking. Once you have achieved focus, turn off autofocus if you are timelapsing a landscape, or a low light picture. This will save battery on your camera, and prevent shots from not being taken (due to failure of autofocus). However, if you are doing a timelapse of people it is best to leave autofocus on, as your camera will always have something to focus on.
  • For changing light conditions: use AV mode (or shutter priority), as your camera will automatically adjust to the changing light – such as in sunset timelapses.
  • Make sure your camera is not set to auto white balance, as this can create flickering.
  • To save battery – you can also turn of “image review” on your camera. Alternatively, you can use a Canon external power source cord to avoid running out of battery.

Setting the timer

You will notice once you have your timer (or any timer) that there are four main settings:

  1. Delay – This is the delay between each shot. You can leave this at 0, unless you have a long shutter speed (night photography)
  2. Long – This is for the shutter speed, for example if you are doing a time-lapse of the stars, and you need a shutter speed longer than 30 seconds.
  3. Interval – This is how often you would like to take a picture, for a fast changing environment (sunset), a good starting point is every 15 seconds.
  4. number of shots – this is as it says – for the number of pictures you would like to take. You can set this, but it is easier to leave the setting at (—-). This will mean the camera will just carry on taking pictures until another limiting factor means no more pictures can be taken; expired battery or unavailable space on the memory card.
Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D: Timelapse of the stars, with the pictures put together in a so-called starlapse (also known as astrophotography):
Starlapse. Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D.

General Tips

  • Shutter Speeds: pick a shutter speed which best suits the environment you are timelapsing, for example if you are timelapsing the stars, you will need a long exposure, to capture as much light as possible
  • Interval Times: For a fast changing enviroment, it is best to use minimal interval times, such as 15 seconds (sunrise/sunset). For a slow enviroment (timelapsing the construction of a building) you can use much greater interval times (perhaps 1 shot every 20 minutes)
  • Battery Power: Once you start timelapsing, you will find that your battery will last longer if you are shooting with quick shutter speeds, as opposed to those with long exposures. You can purchase an extra battery for your camera, but it may be hard to change the battery whilst not moving the tripod. A much better option for longer timelapses, is using an AC power adapter for your camera (available from amazon). One battery should last about 6 hours on an interval of 15 seconds, in daylight.
  • Image Settings: Set your camera to shoot in JPG, rather than RAW, as processing of each image will take much longer with RAW shooting (and use up the battery much quicker)


The most important aspect to time-lapse photography is the stability of the camera. Do not allow the camera to move at all. Hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any questions on long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D, be sure to let us know. We will help you out. Guaranteed.



A inspirational timelapse compilation:

– Article – Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D – instructions and settings – provided by Nicole Lisa Photography for Superstoked Surfing Magazine. Mahalo, Nicole!


/// Facebook page: Nicole Lisa Photography

/// Official website:

/// Article: Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

-George Eastman


Timelapse tutorials for other CANON models:


Article: Long exposure over 30 seconds with Canon 550D


Note – Regional Branding: “The Canon Rebel branding is used mainly for America and Canada, while the Canon Kiss is for the domestic Japanese market. That leaves the Canon EOS branding for the rest of the world. However, to further confuse things, there are actually export versions of the Kiss series around too which differs from the domestic version by way of language options.”


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