Time-lapse photography is an effective technique for showing the passing of time using still images shot over controlled intervals. While many sequences look complex and difficult to achieve, time-lapse photography is in fact a fairly approachable art form you can even try with a smartphone.
That’s not to say it’s an easy skill to master, and the best photographers spend hours on rooftops with telephoto lenses, tripods and other specialised bits of kit for sequences that last mere seconds. Today’s Stuff to Watch is a collection of some of the best time-lapse videos on the web.
So sit back, watch the world go by and get inspired with these stunning scenes.
“Where Are We Going?” – David Coiffier
Professional videographer, photographer and editor David Coiffier shows us how it’s done with his globe-trotting time-lapse that captures stunning detail and overall sharpness. Shot on a Canon DSLR with mostly L series glass, David used Lightroom, the now-discontinued Shake and Final Cut to edit his sequence into this beautiful film.
In the comments David has offered much advice to those who have asked just how it was all done. According to David his choice of lens “has an impact on overall sharpness, but I think most significant reason is the Shake render engine I used on every shot.”
“Walking On Air” – NASA (Expedition 30)
This particular film made headlines this year when the team known as Expedition 30 decided that shooting a time-lapse video of the earth from 200 miles up was a good idea. In case you’ve not seen it yet – it was, and even if you have seen it there’s a good chance you’ll click again anyway.
Set to the song Walking In The Air from the children’s Christmas classic The Snowman (perhaps not the best choice?), this video not only showcases our planet’s most populated zones with patterns of light but also the earth’s atmosphere which is clearly visible in a number of shots.
“Running On Empty” – Ross Ching
Not your average “sit it down and let it run” time-lapse video, this effort from Ross Ching involves a little more work, sharp editing and some clever thinking. Ross has taken the city of Los Angeles and removed all the cars to create a completely surreal minute and a half of video.
In case you’re wondering, Ross explains:
“1. Record for 20-30 mins.
2. Go frame by frame and grab pieces of the road that aren’t obstructed by a car. Eventually, you will have every piece of the road.
3. Put the static image of the road in with the moving background.”
You can read even more about how it was done on his website.
“Eyjafjallajökull” – Sean Steigemeier
Described as “a trial run for another day” by author Sean Steigemeier, this time-lapse was put together as European air travel came to a standstill during the 2010 volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
Sean used a Canon 5D Mark II with a 16-35mm f/2.8 L series lens and made use of a motorised dolly for those steady, panning shots. This video reaffirms my urge to one day visit this beautiful country, eruptions or no eruptions.
“Manhattan in Motion” – Mindrelic
New York is a photogenic city full of life, impressive rooftop views and lots and lots of water towers. It does however take a certain amount of talent to make it look this good, and this film contains some truly stunning angles and camera movements that you don’t see in every cityscape time-lapse.
The finished product is 5 minutes of pure awesome, cut down from over an hour’s worth of original footage – now that’s a lot of stills.
“The Mountain” – TSO Photography
El Teide is Spain’s highest mountain at an altitude of 3718m, and here it is in all its glory in this time-lapse video shot over a week by Norwegian Terje Sørgjerd. who admits to only having about 10 hours of sleep over the whole shoot.
Because there was a large sandstorm rolling in from the Sahara during part the shoot, Terje was worried about one particular shot being ruined. Luckily this resulted in something even Terje didn’t expect, as he explains:
“My camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the Milky Way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined … if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.”
Achieving time-lapse results like these certainly isn’t easy, but giving it a go yourself isn’t hard either. You can get started with a smartphone and a clever app, and your hobby can eventually eat away at your funds thanks to expensive lenses, tripods and motorised dollies.
If you’ve seen any time-lapse videos you like, created any yourself or simply want to add your thoughts regarding any of the videos featured in this post then leave a comment in the field below.