Photographing an Experience: The Time-Lapse Movie

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Yesterday I met Jim, a retired rancher who now lives in a nearby community. As we talked he predicted a large storm would arrive late tonight or early tomorrow. “I can smell it in the air and feel it on my skin” he said. Although it was a hot, windless and clear day, as its been every day this week, I’ve learned in my travels to trust people like him who are wise in the ways of the land.

     This morning, as I leave the cabin at 5:15 AM I quickly learn the accuracy of Jim’s prediction. The wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to open the truck door and the air was suddenly 20 degrees cooler. Even the short 8 mile drive to Geologic Overlook for sunrise required a tight grip on the steering wheel and weather radio said the wind was 60-70 mph. At the overlook, the morning sky suddenly turned dramatic shades of red, orange and black and it’s almost impossible to keep the camera steady. I finally attach a 36 pound weight to the tripod and camera to hold it still to capture just one sunrise photo.
time lapse photography tips

Dazzling Sunrise Colors Signals a Storm on the Way

     By mid-morning, the clouds were moving rapidly through the sky in mesmerizing formations that were constantly shrinking and expanding. I decided to grab the camera gear and record this event for the blog. Although a photograph would capture a portion of the sky and its clouds, it would show only a brief instant in time. The beauty of this morning’s sky however, the event I’d like to share, is how it is constantly moving and changing shape.

     Capturing an event that occurs “over” time calls for time-lapse photography. To better understand what it is and how it can help convey an experience click on the image below (Note: there may be a 10-15 second delay before it starts-please be patient).

time lapse photography tipsWatch a 21-Minute Long Event in Only 26-Seconds
A Time-Lapse Created From 600 Photographs
(Run time: 30 seconds)

(Click the Image to Watch)


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How This Movie Was Made: This time-lapse movie was created from 630 photos taken 2 seconds apart over 21-minutes. The photos were then converted into a movie using Apple Quicktime which displays them in movie-like fashion, one after the other at 30 images per second. Unlike a video that’s viewed in real-time, time-lapse compresses a long event into a short viewing experience. During my time here, I’ll be creating several of these time-lapse movies.

INTERESTED IN CREATING YOUR OWN TIME-LAPSE? In prior years I’ve relied on standard digital cameras and an “intervalometer” to create time-lapse movies. (Click here to read more about that technique.) This year however, I’ve been using a small and relatively inexpensive compact camera called the GoPro HERO 2 (Motorsports Edition) to accomplish the same thing. The GoPro is a small hand-holdable digital camera that can capture regular digital photographs as well as HQ quality video and audio. It also features a “time-lapse” mode for capturing photos automatically at a specific interval, such as every 2 seconds, for creating time-lapse movies. Click here to learn more about the GoPro HERO2 on Amazon.



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  1. Wes
    June 19, 2012 at 9:34 am | #1

    Hi Rick… The time-lapse played well & came up quite quickly on the iPad… Amazing you were able to hold the camera steady in that much wind with a 36# weight…! 😳 Wes

    • rickbraveheart
      June 21, 2012 at 9:13 am | #2

      Hi Wes. Thanks for the iPad video report. Glad it plays well. As for that 60mph wind, yep it was a 36# weight (my backpack). But too, I was also holding down the tripod and camera with every ounce of strength I could muster :-)

  2. July 5, 2012 at 2:32 am | #3

    Reblogged this on My Weblog.

    • rickbraveheart
      July 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm | #4

      You do absolutely stunning photo work out there in LA Vladimir and have a terrific blog. I’m grateful and honored for the reblog. Thanks so much.

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