Shooting through time

[words and photographs by Eric Nathan / The Wide Angle]

A few years ago, in a whimsical moment of creative diversification, I started to experiment with the interval timer function on my camera in order to create time-lapse videos. By its very nature, time-lapse photography is a form of accelerated reality and more often than not, especially with man-made subjects, the result instils a frenzied sense of chaotic urgency.

As an avid landscape photographer, I often strive to create the very opposite mood with my imagery; hence the challenge for me is to create time-lapses that are both scenic and emotive without becoming frenetic. I try to achieve this by concentrating on scenes where the time-lapse reveals aesthetic changes in light rather than the rapid motion of subjects.

One of my more successful attempts has been “Cape Town Moonrise”, captured from the summit of Lion’s Head inCape Townin 2010. It was photographed using a stills camera over a period of around three hours and, without getting too technical, I should point out that this was not a straightforward time-lapse. It required numerous and regular changes to various camera settings during capture, as well as several hours of post-production. If you’re wanting to experiment with your first time-lapse, I strongly urge you to start off with a simple, day-time scene with constant sunlight. Once you understand the mechanics and workflow of the process you may then want to try your hand at more complex scenarios.

It can be a fairly tedious process to shoot and then post-process a time-lapse, but one of the delights is that you never quite know what the result will look like until it’s completely post-processed. To me that’s a welcome respite from the immediacy of digital photography and the world of instant-playback videos.

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