It’s about time
For whatever reason I’ve always been fascinated by time. Time passes inexorably, the rate constant, but the perception of its passing is left to the viewer. Time flies when one is having fun, but a watched pot never boils.
Sometimes to clear my head I will find a quiet place to sit. I notice the passage of time in different ways depending on where I am, and what I’m looking at. If you can sit still long enough, you can see the shadows cast by sunlight move across the ground, or watch the moon’s arc across the sky. Lately I’ve made note of the changes brought by spring; buds sprouting on my lilac trees, the flowers poking up from the ground, and my lawn finally returning to my favored state of green and alive.
Getting the timer for my camera has proven to be a boon with regards to this fascination. As part of a series of tests starting with a burning candle, I did a few shots of the grandfather clock that sits in the front hall of my house.
The first clock test was done for one hour during the afternoon. The thing I didn’t like about it was that the light in the hallway was changing very quickly, causing a flicker once the video was assembled. It was a partly cloudy day, and the wind was blowing the clouds so that we were intermittently shadowed.
I assembled the video all the same, with some light color and level corrections, and a slight zoom and pan effect. The shoot took place using a setting of a 5 second interval between exposures.
I decided to do another series of tests that evening once everyone was in bed. My thought was that I could set the light to be consistent, no flickering… however, I discovered a new problem….
There seems to be a slight shaking of the camera! The house was asleep when this session took place, however my wife got up several times to check the children, there was a thunderstorm that rolled through the valley, and the pellet stove was running in the next room. I’m betting it was the pellet stove that caused the movement, but I’m open to the possibility that it may also have been ghosts. (If it was ghosts, they don’t appear in the footage… but lets not rule out ghosts just yet…)
So, I did a few things with the footage…
First, I ran motion stabilization on the video in After Effects.
Then I altered the color a bit.
Then I decided to remap time on the video, so time would appear to be passing more quickly.
Then, for fun, I added a slight pan and zoom, with a lens effect.
In the end this is only a test. The new camera card allowed me to shoot this sequence for hours longer than I previously could have, but the slight shaking just irritates me.
The considerations that go into timelapse photography are more than one might have imagined. Set up, planning, calculations (shot interval, how many frames is one shot, how many frames per second) are all crucial. Next time I’ll make sure the pellet stove is off, the night has decent weather, and most importantly to exorcise all pesky ghosts before shooting occurs.