Over the summer you will be hearing from our interns. We’ve asked them to write about their experiences in the field. Interns Richard and Ashton, assisted Steve Hurst in shooting a time lapse downtown. Below is Richard’s take on the exciting day!
Visualizing a particular location over the course of hours, with all daily walks of life, can be a difficult task. Imagine a building, scraping the sky with sequenced brick, pillars protruding vertically following a pattern that gives the edifices a cool shadow effect when the sun is at that right angle. What I have described is Louisville’s own downtown Aegon Center.
Although it takes quite a while from the beginning of the morning’s sun to reach a point of choreographed shadows moving across the building, I waited out the day and saw the event unfold while thousands passed only glimpsing random moments of the total production.
The assignment for the day: Aide a videographer taking sequenced pictures of an event for playback– a time-lapse. A time-lapse is a succession of still photos of a particular subject and its environment for the purpose of playback, which is briskly displayed in a fraction of time it took to shoot. It’s the process I learned from start to finish.
The day was hot with some clouds, and I had forgotten or didn’t bother to put on sunscreen. Either way it showed by the end of the day. I had been told that these weather conditions, perhaps arduous for the individual wearing business casual attire, were ideal conditions for a multiple hour time-lapse shoot.
The start of the day began relatively normal as we began packing the van for the shoot just before ten o’clock. As we left Videobred and made it to the Aegon Center, we emptied out the van and set up camp right at its foot for a five hour production.
The particular shots envisioned by photographer Steve Hurst, involved the use of a programmable dolly that was attached both ends to two different tripods. The dolly worked in harmony with the camera, the mediator between the two pieces of equipment was a device called a motion controller. The motion controller can be programed in different ways. The basic needs any photographer wants out of this arrangement is for the motion controller to coordinate the camera to take a picture a certain amount of seconds then have the dolly pull the camera how ever many inches towards a chosen direction. This sort of time-lapse dolly system was new to me and considering we were going to be shooting for several hours, I was able to clock in my fair share of gawking and drooling over the new cool toy–a video wonk’s Red Ryder bb gun for the day.
Steve had programmed the motion controller to take a picture every 10 seconds and immediately thereafter have the dolly system pull the camera a 1/10 of an inch. Patience was a factor, but the shots were great from beginning to end. Framing started off with a tight shot of the thoroughbred statue in front of the Aegon Center and slowly brought the skyscraper into view timed perfectly with the shadows jogging across the building. A downward abstract angle was leveled out for the dolly system that pulled the camera, transferring the viewpoint to a wide peripheral shot from its original precise opening frame.
At the end of the shoot the lighting, which grazed the building, looked evolved in many ways. Certain edges of the building were highlighted more than others, patches of shade came to compliment the ivory color of the building, and there was an influx of many people to the square, which the complex towers.
A typical pedestrian who walked by several times during the day, likely failed to visually picture the Aegon Center and the sun’s light an hour before they arrived or in the hours that followed, but a time-lapse, can succinctly and beautifully capture a certain location as it embarks on a day’s journey.