Making GoPro Nightlapse Mode Not Suck

I like doing timelapses, but I don’t like leaving my main camera rig out in the open for hours.  A small rainstorm would be bad.  Having someone come across it when left out would be bad.

Year ago I had a GoPro Hero OG model, and it was.. interesting but not very good.  At anything.  I never gave them another thought, until the other day. I was poking around one of my local pawnshops and came across a Hero 5 Black, with a 3-way hand grip and battery for $150.  It peaked my interest, as I had not played with them in 4 generations.

So I tried a timelapse (test #1), and was heartily unimpressed.  I looked around online, and saw other samples that were markedly better than mine, so I figure there’s gotta be a ‘sweet spot’ for the settings that I wasn’t aware of.

 

 

 

Test #1

The Setup

GoPro Hero 5 Black, using nightlapse mode for about 3 hours.

  • ISO800
  • 30 Second exposure
  • Camera default of f/2.8
  • FOV – Linear

 

Sample frame, directly out of the camera.  Unedited.

Same sample frame, edited in Lightroom

The Results

After editing, the sky looks fine, but oh damn… the ground, building and trees are just horrible.  There’s gotta be something I am missing.

Test #2

The Setup

Same GoPro Hero 5 Black, using nightlapse mode for about 3 hours.

  • ISO400
  • 30 Second exposure
  • Camera default of f/2.8
  • FOV – Wide

 

Sample frame, directly out of the camera.  Unedited.

Same sample frame, edited in Lightroom

The Results

Better, but you have to push the contrast to the max, and it starts to look a little weird quickly.

Test #3

The Setup

Same GoPro Hero 5 Black, using nightlapse mode for about 3 hours.

  • ISO400
  • 30 Second exposure
  • Camera default of f/2.8
  • FOV – Wide
  • Lens profile correction done in Lightroom
  • Synced color balance across all images

Sample frame, directly out of the camera.  Unedited.

Same sample frame, edited in Lightroom

The Results

OK, getting near where I want to be. There was significant color edits done in Premier Pro, most notably the green levels brought down with the reds in Lumetri. This allows the blue to be more present. I also used a Ramp effect on an adjustment layer to drop the saturation from the upper left to lower right.

I was definitely too aggressive on the clarity, as you can see in the tree on the lower left.

Things I have learned

You can do (basic) adjustments to a video in Lightroom!

Premier Pro has a lens profile for GoPro cameras to remove lens distortion!

GoPro has absolutely no idea what it is doing when it comes to colors. Greens and reds are all over the place.