For a while now, I have wanted to do a blog about the work of other time-lapse photographers across the globe. My article started out as my pick of the top 10 but my list quickly outgrew itself and so that notion dropped away.
Time-lapse photography has come along in the past five to ten years and we’ve seen a range of devices that removes the complication of ramping exposures from day to night. Cameras are now rendering straight out of the camera. Great if you want to get it straight to social media.
Good time lapse gear is expensive though. Much of it is designed to integrate and mix with other devices to be controlled by your phone. The gear is wide ranging in price and performance.
After time-lapse came the variations and the bar was raised if you wanted to get noticed. Along came hyperlapse, drone-lapse, layer-lapse and more. It’s not uncommon for these to also be mashed. There’s even photographers who chase storms for time-lapse. In the past year or two, I have noticed a move away from a simple demo-reel to story telling with seamless transitions and hyperzoom that make it all flow from one scene to the next without you really noticing. This technique is more commonly known as flow motion and became popular with Rob Whitworth (see below).
More recently, there’s also been a move to spend more time on the PC than being out with the camera. Post production and effects are becoming more popular and can take months if not years of work to achieve the wow effect. The very best time-lapse photographers out there are constantly looking at new and creative ways just to get noticed. Many of them started out as amateurs and struck a technique or style that grew them a following and a business, almost overnight. Then there’s the ‘followers’ who emulate the technique and styles of the masters.
Anyway, here’s my who’s who for time-lapse photography. I have not rated or ranked any one of them over another. In my eyes, they are all equally great in their creativity and they are artists to be admired. Having said that, I have attempted to profile time-lapse artists who have continued to publish their work over the past few years and others who have received the prestigious Vimeo ‘Staff Picks’ awards. They are very hard to get and recognise the very best in production. I’ve made some recommendations of what I think you’ll enjoy watching if you haven’t seen it already.
Dustin Farrell, Visual Concepts – USA
Perhaps one of the first time-lapse artists to really get underway when the motion control gear started to become popular. His ‘Landscapes: Volume Two‘ video of 7 years ago reached 4.5M plays and 26K likes. In his most latest work, Transient, Dustin uses his Phantom Flex4K capturing lightening in raw files at 1000 frames per second and incorporating that with time-lapse of storms. Dustin’s work is to be admired. He shares his knowledge and makes a few tutorials available.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 4 Website – http://dfvc.com/
Drew Geraci, District 7 Media – USA
I had the pleasure of meeting Drew when he came to New Zealand earlier this year. Drew is a genuine friendly guy who is willing to give you his time and share his knowledge too. He’s an ambassador for Sony and produces some outstanding work. He’s well known for filming the opening time-lapse sequences for the popular American TV series House of Cards. Drew is passionate about everything he does and continues to push the envelope. I’d recommend watching his Asylum time-lapse.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 3 Website – http://www.district7.com/
Bevan Percival, Primal Earth Images – New Zealand
I put Bevan right up there with any of the other time-lapse artists out there. Bevan’s work is inspirational. I’ve had the absolute pleasure to travel to all corners of New Zealand with him to get the very best scenes we want to shoot. Bevan is driven and I admire his careful eye for composition. His work has been used by Sony marketing and Japanese film crews have engaged him here in New Zealand. He’s well known for his stunning landscape and night sky time-lapses in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. I’m know you will enjoy his New Zealand Landscapes Timelapse Volume Two
Vimeo Staff Picks – 2 Website – http://www.primalearthimages.com/
Michael Shainblum Photography – USA
One of Michael’s most popular videos reached 2.5M views but what blew me away was his Mirror City time-lapse. That really lifted the bar. He used various kaleidoscopic techniques in post production which totally amped the viewing experience. The music was so perfectly matched too. While also being successful at landscape photography, his latest blog talks about how he has run into creative blocks and has times when he felt uninspired or lacking motivation to get out of bed for a sunrise shoot. His challenge has been to think about shooting things differently.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 6 Website – http://www.shainblumphoto.com/
Rob Whitworth – England
One of the most recognised time-lapse photographers renown for developing flow motion time-lapse is Rob Whitworth. Rob works out exactly the shot he wants to achieve and visualises the finished video in his mind when he first arrives on location. A master of the post-production side to time-lapse, his Dubai Flow Motion popularised his style. Through the manipulation of time-lapse photography, Rob lifts the constraints of time and space to create compelling stories. He’s completed projects all over the world and his unique flow motion style works are instantly identifiable, with gripping perspectives that create a profoundly transformative experience. I’d also recommend you see his amazing Hong Kong city lights clip in the BBC series of ‘Planet Earth II: Cities’.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 8 Website – http://www.robwhitworth.co.uk/
Keith Loutit – Australia
Keith’s The Lion City II – Majulah project explores long term filming, to reveal changes that are invisible in our daily travels. He traveled Singapore returning to film the same locations to capture the evolving picture of a city changing on a timescale that would otherwise remain unseen. I believe this to be his best work. I’m unsure how long it took him to make this, but the construction of buildings made it like a high rise apartment went up overnight. The music for this movie was composed especially for the video. The movie has well over 1.4M views and 10.4K Vimeo likes. Keith is also well known for his miniaturisation with time-lapse scenes.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 3 Website – https://keithloutit.com/
Joe Capra, Scientifantastic – USA
I would describe this guy’s work as monumental. His ‘Pano | LA‘ time-lapse was shot over a period of two years entirely in true panoramic form using two synced DSLR cameras side by side using ramper simultaneously controlling both cameras. The resulting panoramic time-lapse footage comes in at a whopping 10K resolution when stitched and the detail is so clear. His work has been featured by Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, just to name a few. Joe’s also the proud recipient of the X Prize Foundation’s award for Exploration.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 4 Website – http://www.scientifantastic.com/
I understand in various circles that Geoff is referred to as the grandfather of time-lapse. I’m not surprised given his 30+ years with much of that spent doing time-lapse. Geoff produced the first ever digitally produced commercial time-lapse clips, before DSLR’s were available, using a homemade intervalometer with one of the early Nikon Coolpix cameras. In 2014 he started developing his HyperZoom™ technique. This has now reached a level where it enables the production of seamless virtual time-lapse flights joining real-time, time-lapse, hyperlapse and every other filming technique into a single journey with no visible cuts between the locations. You can see this effect here in his HyperZooming through Hallstatt time-lapse which received a Vimeo Staff Pick. Geoff has also mastered the layer-lapse technique used by Julian Tryba below in his Chicago toccata & fugue movie.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 3 Website – http://www.geofftompkinson.com/
Martin Heck, Timestorm Films – Germany
Martin spends a lot of his time travelling to the best places in the world for landscape time-lapse. Not only has he been here to New Zealand, his travels and stock time-lapse includes Iceland, Patagonia and South America. With over 8 years of experience in time-lapse techniques, he’s always pushing technical and creative limits to elevate his productions. While the rest of the work is producing content in 4K, Martin is streets ahead producing native 8K time-lapse content on Youtube. Martin’s current developments include 8Kx8K full dome time-lapse, 8K 360VR timelapses. One of his popular time-lapse shoots was the April 2015 Mt. Calbuco eruption in southern Chile.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 5 Website – http://timestormfilms.net/
Mike Olbinski – USA
Mike has risen to fame in the past 2-3 years as a storm chaser. He lives in Arizona and works as a wedding photographer in his spare time. As a child, he was obsessed with weather often watching the lightning from the front window. He gets to see amazing clouds, awesome dust storms and serious amounts of lightning. Mike’s work has been published nationally and internationally, magazines around the world, weather calendars, movies, documentaries, commercials and television shows. His storm-lapses are awe-inspiring and make for compelling viewing on large UHD television. I’d recommend watching A supercell near Booker, Texas which has 2.8M views.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 5 Website – http://www.mikeolbinski.com/
Julian Tryba – USA
As a former rocket scientist, Julian quickly rose to fame in the world of time-lapse with his Boston Layer lapse production about 4 years ago. Apparently, it took close to 400 hours in post production to make. Julian considers traditional time-lapses are constrained by the idea that there is a single universal clock. He shoots time-lapse mostly of city scenes using the same focal length from the same spot at various times of the day or night. Using Adobe software, he then masks to hide or reveal parts of the scene with buildings shot at day or night, juxtaposed with a mixture of the same all moving to the beat of the music. The result is a visual time dilation effect known as layer-lapse. He went on to do the same with his more recent New York City layer lapse.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 2 Website – https://www.juliantphoto.com/
Enrique Pacheco – Spain
There’s not many places in the world Enrique hasn’t traveled to shoot time-lapse. He has ventured to New Zealand however, and that maybe due to others on this ‘who’s who’ list who’ve got to it first. Some of his latest short films have been very successful in internet and festivals, “Reflections from Uyuni”, “Shaped by Time”, “Made on Earth” and “The Maghreb” are all long-term self-productions made with great effort and passion. If you’ve ever walked through a Sony TV showroom, you will have seen some of his work which looks stunning on the large screen. I think one of his greatest time-lapses is the ‘Reflections from Uyuni‘ capturing the beauty of the salt flat of Uyuni in Bolivia.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 7 Website – http://www.enriquepacheco.com/
Tom Lowe – USA
Tom is an award-winning cinematographer for his work in directing ‘Timescapes’ which was his debut film featuring slow-motion and time-lapse cinematography of the landscapes, people, and wildlife of the American South West. Receiving a Vimeo Staff Pick, TimeScapes: Rapture was his most popular viewed time-lapse with 2.4M views. Tom was instrumental in the resurgence of time-lapse, pioneering several new techniques, creating the TimeScapes.org forum being the largest community of timelapse shooters on the internet, and helping design motorised time-lapse dollies and motion-control systems. Tom is also a judge for the annual Time-lapse Film Festival.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 3 Website – http://timescapes.org/
Marc Donahue, PermaGrin Films – USA
Marc has been doing time-lapses ever since he was in college. Together with Sean Michael Williams, they wowed audiences with their Dream Music video back in 2012. These guys went on to explore their ‘lyric-lapsing’ technique to achieve the surrealistic feeling of movement taking around 6-8 hours of work for 3-4 seconds of footage. Marc continues to experiment with new time-lapse techniques and visual storytelling styles. Their goal is to pioneer a new film genre by telling a story through art and music. Other great productions include Imagination and “I Left My Heart” SF Timelapse Project.
Website – http://permagrinfilms.com/
Shahab Behzumi, bzoomi – Germany
The pioneer of hyperlapsing is Shahab Behzumi. Hyperlapse is a special technique in time-lapse photography in which the position of the camera is being changed between each exposure to create a tracking shot in time-lapse sequences. His hyperzoom Berlin Hyperlapse published 6 years ago received a Vimeo Staff Pick given that hyperlapse was ground-breaking at that time. From that time forward, hyperlapse was born with many smartphones and gimbals making this form of time-lapse much more common and easy to do.
Vimeo Staff Picks – 1 Website – http://www.b-zoomi.com
Tomasz Walczak, Beyond The Time – Poland
There’s probably nothing this guy doesn’t know hyperlapse. His specialities also include time-lapse, drone-lapse, and even stop-motion techniques. I’d go so far as to say he’s a walking encyclopedia on the subject. He offers tutorials by the truckload at his website. If there’s anything you want to learn on how to do any form of time-lapse, this is where you’d come. I think his video titled Panta Rhei Wrocław showcases all his skills and filming techniques.
Website – https://beyondthetime.net/
So there you go. I have limited those on this who’s who list to be active, influential, ground-breaking or a combination of the above. There are many more outstanding time-lapse photographers who have received awards and recognition for their efforts. This web page is not long enough for me to list them all. They include:
Terje Sorgjerd, Dan Eckert, Aaron Keigher, Brad Goldpaint, Eric Hines, Henry Jun Wah Lee, Shawn Reader, Aaron Priest, Oliver Kmia, Justin Tierney, Casper Rolsted, Jonas Høholt, Morten Rustad, Kirill Neiezhmakov, Tyler Fairbank, Mike Orso, and Chad Gordon Higgins (Chadchud Timelapse).
Others who actively promote their occupation doing time-lapse include Matthew Vandeputte and Emeric Le Bars.
Now, who have I left out ? Lots probably, and I will have upset someone I’m sure. Do get in contact with me if you should be on my list for Who’s who in time-lapse photography.
. . . . and now, I’m off to watch some time-lapses.