First Steps as a Footage Fanatic

Further to my comprehensive review of Microstock Guru, Daniele Carrer’s footage course, I’ve been keen on getting started on capturing some footage, particularly timelapses.

My parents were visiting for a few days and I thought that with good weather, no better place than take them to see Majestic Lake Como for the day!


According to the MicrostockGuru, timelapses are supposed to be some of the more profitable types of footage. They do take longer to do and require slightly more technical work than real-time footage as I’ve discovered. When I say timelapses, these are not sped-up videos, but much more dynamic combined still images.

However, to make my life easier, my Nikon D800 features a built-in interval timer (YouTube tutorial) Turns out it’s relatively straightforward, with the built-in software immediately combining all the stills into one .MOV file. It’s not 4K resolution but that’s OK for now as I’m still learning the ropes.

Build in control of Nikon D800’s interval timer

Working backwards

Instead of doing calculations in my head on  how long I needed the program calculated everything for me. I decided to have a 5-second interval between each shot and for the total video to be just 5 seconds long.

This gave me a 10 minute capture time (some 100 images), which is just long enough before I get tired of babysitting my camera in one place. Using the same logic, a 30-second timelapse footage would require me standing there waiting for 1 hour! Probably not the greatest use of my time unless I’m extremely confident that the footage would sell.

On a side note, the software does have a start timer which I could leave my camera and tripod on while it does it work, for example while I’m sleeping at 5am when the sun rises.

My first timelapses

To make my way to Como, I arrived early at Milan’s Cadorna station. The piazza in front of the station features an interesting artwork of thread and needle, symbolising Milan’s proud fashion statement. As per above, I set my timer for a 5 seconds and boom. This is the result straight out of the camera.

From another angle, I put together this timelapse of a busy intersection. I’m not particularly happy about the tram there for a while and that my horizon isn’t straight but still submitted it to Shutterstock, Pond5 and Storyblocks:

Arriving in Como

By the time I got to Como I realised that these timelapses consuming a lot of battery-life. Even if I took a fully-charged batter, a few videos consumed 1/3 of the battery-life. Good to know for next time.

In Como, I focused on the commotion in front of Porta Torre, a 12th century 40-metre fortification. Same technicals as the above.

Bellagio Timelapses

My parents and I took an 1-hour boat trip from Como to Bellagio, zigzagging across the lake to admire the beautiful villas (where I captured dozens of images). Arriving in Bellagio, I made my ways to the top of Salita Serbelloni (Bellagio’s postcard street) and positioned my tripod strategically to capture the following:

In the above, I took Daniele’s advice to shoot in manual mode and not aperture to avoid the dreaded flickering. Remember that this is straight out of the camera and if I want to I insert this video into specialist software to make it even more dynamic.

Real-Time Footage

Ironically, even if my intention for the day was to capture a bunch of timelapses, my favourite scene was a real-time. The light was favourable towards a restaurant terrace where tourists where enjoying gelatos, coffee and aperitivos. The key action points are the waitress greeting the couple and showing them to their tables. Simple and commercial.

I shot the above for about 90 seconds, but only used a 10-second segment to make this video.

Back into my comfort zone

During the day I captured 7 timelapses and 3 real-time videos. However, during the moments when I wasn’t babysitting my camera, I was still doing what I do best, which is to capture photos. And boy did I capture some nice shots!


I’m enjoying combining footage with stills, but the only annoying part is having to sometimes shoot with an ND filter which means I have to bump up the ISO and/or close the aperture even if it’s really bright outside. Not a big deal since it’s only 2 stops at a minimum. Otherwise, keep removing the filter every time I have to shoot stills, which is annoying. I may have to take my back-up camera for photos and keep the filter on for footage. Anybody else have this issue?

Some encouraging advice from Vic VideopIC

If you’re a photographer and also making the logical transition into footage, check out his new tutorial entitled “Stock photography, how to move into stock video footage (2018)”. Here’s Vic’s introduction:

“After a few years in stock photography a lot of people try their chance with stock footage, lured by legends of pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this video I will show you why so many people fail at this attempt, and how to make this move in a successful way.” –  Vittorio Caramazza

You can see more useful tutorials on his YouTube channel as well as his Pond5 portfolio here.

I’m hoping to make a successful transition and grateful with all the knowledge I’m receiving from the pros.

My perfect Como itinerary

If you do visit Lake Como, arriving from Milan, I would recommend the following.

  1. Take a train from Milan Cadorna to Como Lago (50 minutes)
  2. Enjoy what Como has to offer, walk on the promenade, have a gelato and visit the main piazzas
  3. Take a boat at the pier in Como towards Bellagio (1 hour)
  4. Enjoy Bellagio during sunset
  5. Take another boat across to Varenna
  6. Have dinner in Varenna overlooking the Majestic lake
  7. Take a train back to Milan Central Station (1 hour)
  8. Otherwise go the other way by arriving at Varenna, working your way to Bellagio and then Como and taking the train back to Milan Cadorna – up to you!

Here’s a link to a cool video by BestTravelVideo on the best way to reach Bellagio by train going via Milan Central Station to Varenna!

Hope that’s helpful! Until next time – Alex

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted my five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography



      • Thanks for your kind comments. For us doing stock footage, now in ferries I use a Gorillapod with stabilize off but when the ferry engine stalls it’s worse than an action cam’s shake. Maybe a good idea to cove Como for stock would be to rent a Sea Plane tour of the lake! Only problem is that an eye on the viewfinder, when on a plane, at the end always gets me air sick!

        Liked by 1 person

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