So much to do, so little time. We’re also a bit backlogged on our blogging and hopefully we’ll be able to get back to a more steady schedule soon, but until then, here’s a tip for the photographers! This technique has saved our butts in terms of time and frustration. At Bui Photos we often shoot in a team to offer the best coverage for our brides and grooms. And as anyone who has shot with more than 1 person or even more than 1 camera will know, one of the biggest headaches is synchronizing all the clocks on the cameras so that when you later import the photos, you don’t have ceremony pics while going through the getting ready shots. And no matter how hard we try, someone is always off by a few seconds and sometimes even a year… And while most people might be thinking to themselves, what’s a few seconds or even a minute out of sync? Well for a wedding, that can mean going through a set of vows and then seeing the bride walk down the aisle again. And when you’re sorting through hundreds, if not thousands, of photos, this can get painfully old quickly.
That was until I figured out a very cool feature in Lightroom. I’m not 100% sure when it was introduced, maybe Lightroom 2, but it’s definitely there in Lightroom 3 and 4. So below are the step-by-step directions on how to time sync multiple cameras using Lightroom. Please note, there is a big caveat to these directions, you must remember to do the first few steps at the wedding or you will still be SOL.
Step-by-Step Directions for Time Syncing Multiple Cameras in Lightroom
Step 1: If you have an Apple iPhone, go to the App Store and download a free app called Clock! by GoldenPlum. What’s special about this clock app is that it counts in seconds, which is what you need unlike the default Apple iPhone clock that only does minutes. After it is installed, it’s called Clock GT.
Step 2: With all your photographers and cameras assembled, launch the app and have everyone take a picture of the time and date that is displayed. Make sure you photograph the display with EVERY camera. I’ll call this the time reference photo. And don’t worry if everyone takes the photo at a slightly different time, it won’t matter.
Step 3: After the wedding is over, I import all the wedding photos into Lightroom. I don’t have anything special setting other than Copy photos to a new location and add to catalog. I should note that my camera is set to do continuous sequence and not reset the numbering, although I doubt this makes much of a difference. Also they way my Lightroom Catalog is organized might make a difference. I have it set to Organize By date and Date Format is 2012/05-21. This way all the photos from all the cameras go into one big folder so that I can filter easily as well as pick my favorites for blogging and/or portfolio. I know some people may do it differently, so YMMV.
Step 3a: You only have to do this step once. While in Library mode, go to View in the menu bar, and make sure Show filter bar is checked. You’ll notice a Library Filter: bar appears above the thumbnail photos. This is important so that you can filter by cameras.
Step 4: In the Library Filter: bar, select Camera Info from the drop-down in the far right corner. This will open up 4 panes directly below. The first pane is Camera. Select the first camera you wish to time set. When you select that specific camera, the thumbnails below will now filter to only show shots taken by that camera.
Step 5: Look for the time reference photo and record the time and date.
Step 6: Select all the photos. Keep in mind that you still have the filtering set to one specific camera.
Step 7: In the menu bar, go to Metadata > Edit Captured Time…. A new window will appear. Make sure you have Adjust to a specified date and time selected under Type of adjustment. Under New Time, and next to Corrected Time:, change the date and time to match the information you wrote down from the time reference photo and click Change.
Step 8: Repeat Steps 4-7 for all other cameras. Then make sure you select All under Camera in the Library Filter: bar, otherwise when you go to Develop mode, photos will be missing. That’s it! You should notice that all the shots are in the correct time synced order now. Neat trick huh?
Something Else I Learned
No doubt you’ll encounter this problem sooner or later. Let’s say you and your 2 other photographers forgot to take a time reference photo at the very beginning and now it’s the end of the wedding, what are you going to do?! Simple, take the photo at the end then. What I found is that it really doesn’t matter when you take the time reference photo so long as you take it on each camera. Generally when I do getting ready photos, I tend to only use one camera and one lens. I don’t pull out my other Nikon D3 until we do the First Reveal, so I take the time reference photo when I pull out my other body. If you tend to be forgetful, I would recommend that you do it with all your cameras at the same time to avoid forgetting. Let’s say by the off-chance you might have forgotten and realized days later that you never took the time reference photo. In theory, you should still be able to take a time reference photo and then still sync all the time up successfully, but I haven’t tried this. All this only works if YOU DO NOT CHANGE THE TIME ON YOUR CAMERAS. After you take the time reference photo, do not, under any circumstances make any adjustments to the camera’s clock or you’ll create all sorts of problems for yourself. Typically my cameras are within ~1 minute of each other +/-1. And I rarely use two cameras except for weddings or events, so most of the time I don’t worry so much about the time.