When I take a photo, I normally spend a short period of time framing the photo and then I move on. Timelapses are different. When you pick a spot to take one, you are commiting yourself to being in that moment for anywhere from a few mintues to a few hours.
Timelapses add another dimension to a photo. You’re not just looking at a moment in time - you’re seeing how it changes with it.
In some cases, this just means seeing how time changes during the day. You can watch a beautiful sunset, or see how it changes during during the day. You can capture the power of the earth - watching storms coming in or nature changing the landscape, and no one is better at this than Mike Olbinski.
You can capture a city skyline changing, as Joseph DiGiovanna is doing with his 30 year NYC timelapse project.
You can watch the swarm-like way humans interact with our surroundings and get a better sense of the sheer scale of humanity.
Timelapses are hard to take! They take some planning and thought. Unlike photography and film, you will will be in one place for quite a while. Once you set up all your gear, you have to sit there and wait for as long as you want your timelapse to take. Then you come home, download your footage, and go through the process of curating and editing your shots. You have to really want to take the shot.
I typically take timelapses when I have spent a fair amount of time in a place and want to remember some essence of it.
When I was in Rome, the old Forum fascinated me. I loved looking down at this minature city from thousands of years ago and picturing what it must have been like to live there. The night before I took the timelapse, I scouted out the location I wanted to shoot from, got an early night sleep, and raced over there to catch the sunrise. It was quite a memorable experience to be alone above the ruins.
When I was visiting Paris, I lived in a small apartment at the top of an ancient building - no elevator, just a long staircase that leaned rather ominously. The building was a little taller than most of its neighbours, so I could look out over the neighborhood at night and on to the Eiffel Tower a little distance away. Watching the sun set from that apartment was my favorite memory of Paris.
The mountains in my home province of British Columbia are some of the most beautiful objects I have ever set my eyes on. Watching the sun rise or set over their white faces will never get old to me.
I love picking spots that showcase the elements I love most about a place. Dublin has these really incredible bridges - each one completely different from the rest. If you’re walking around the heart of the city, you will cross them a lot. So it was really nice to sit down with a coffee and just watch one being used for an hour.
A friend of mine had heard of an island that had a reputation for being a wild and haunted place, so we packed up a car and made the trip over. At the time, the island had a permanent population of 1, a retired boxer named Pascal Whelan. We met him shortly after our arrival, then made our way to the edge of the island to set up camp. As we huddled around our little campfire with the winds raging around us, we could spot a lone figure in the distance walking towards us who didn’t look anything like Mr. Whelan. It turns out there was one other crazy soul who had a similar idea to us, only he hadn’t thought about bringing a tent and was starting to regret his decision.
Suffice to say, Omey Island lives up to its reputation as a strange and haunted place. Worth a visit, but don’t get caught out by the tide!