The Upside Down Time Lapse

Stevens Avenue overpass West Haven, CTYeah – it’s an obsession. This time lapse thing is starting to take over my life.

Tonight,after work, Jose and I headed out to I-95 to shoot another time lapse movie. I wanted to try a busy highway, where streaking tail lights add an interesting blur and really bring the compression of time home.

Jose made two suggestions – places where I-95 ducked under a city street.

The first was in East Haven. We headed over the “Q” Bridge, took a quick look and decided it wouldn’t do. Visual access to the highway was interrupted by a closed on ramp. This shot needed a long visible stretch of road.

Next stop was West Haven. There, Stevens Avenue, a relatively quiet residential street, passes over a straight section of the highway. It’s a few hundred yards from where the West Haven Tolls once stood. There is a cyclone fence on the overpass, but the spaces looked large enough for my 30mm lens to get off a clean shot.

Upside Down Photography Over I-95I spent a few minutes trying to thread my Gorillapod through the lattice work to support “Clicky.” No matter what I did, the camera wouldn’t sit correctly for the shot.

Then, Jose recommended I flip it upside down! That solved my problem. A few seconds later, I was ready to shoot.

Make no mistake, it’s unnerving to have your camera hanging upside down on a fence over the Interstate. We took the shoulder strap and tied it to the fence as a safety backup.

I fired off a few test shots. The lights streaked, as I expected. Everything looked good. The camera was set to .a &#189 second exposure at f1.4. For low noise, my ISO dialed down to 200.

The intervalometer was plugged in next. It was set to fire a shot every four seconds.

What you see below is the result. Because the camera was upside down, I had to flip this video 180&#176 – pretty easy with Sony Vegas 8… but it would work as well with nearly any editing program.

There is some lens flare, probably from a street lamp, on the right side of the image. I wish I’d seen it before I started shooting. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with the result.

This 10 second clip took around 20 minutes of shooting.

Since I’m still really testing what I can do, here’s another version. The color has been corrected, making blacks ad whites a little closer to reality and the frame a little brighter. I’ve also stretched the time by a factor of approximately two. Vegas 8 creates the extra frames necessary, so the movie continues to render smoothly.

5 thoughts on “The Upside Down Time Lapse”

  1. very cool. I’m still trying to get caught up w/ your toy list – just ordered my iGot-u GPS tracker, this is next.

    re: the sun setting into night sequence, I’m assuming that your “problem” has to do with the need to change camera settings as the light goes away.

    I was wondering if you set up the camera in Av mode for the sunset, and pre-set the camera in Tv for the night stuff – that way, while the camera is running initially in Av, once it becomes darker, in between shots, you can switch over from Av to Tv easily in the 10 seconds you have between shots.

  2. Very cool, Geoff. I looked back through the site, but couldn’t come up with the make/model of the intervalometer, and where you got it. I’m interested in getting one, but haven’t been able to find one. Can you pass along that info?

  3. Geoff, these are great fun to watch… Would this work at the beach with waves coming in? It would probably take way too long to do a tide in and out stretch, but the waves might be fun!

  4. Gary – You must use all manual settings for time lapse. There are significant short term changes in lighting (as clouds move by) that would make an auto iris shot look awful. But, good idea.

    Fred – I’m not going to put a link because items change so frequently, but go on EBay and search the term “shutter timer.” You’ll find it immediately.

    Evi – Time lapse only works for something with a very long period. So waves, which repeat quite often, don’t really work. The tide would, though our Connecticut tides aren’t too drastic.

    Have I mentioned, I enjoy all of the comments you folks leave.

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