When timelapse photography is executed properly, the depth of feeling evoked is limitless. An incredible amount of work, planning, precision, and patience goes into each timelapse photography project – many takes years to complete and collect thousands (and even millions) of images in the process. But once the final product is assembled, timelapse photography has the power to bring us to our knees in awe.
Seeing drastic change and the passage of time condensed into an artistically coherent couple of minutes is a breathtaking experience. Once you’ve been exposed to timelapse photography, you may find yourself crawling the internet searching for new videos to watch and projects to read about. Many such projects are similar, and over time they can lose their impact. The following timelapse photography projects, however, fully captured our imaginations and are the works of true masters.
Vorticity – Mike Olbinski
Many timelapse projects understandably focus on subjects that are rooted, that are immovable – sprawling cityscapes, or majestic mountains. In his project Vorticity, Mike Olbinski undertakes the seemingly dangerous and applaudable task of chasing storms – specifically, tornadoes – and documenting them across 20,000 miles and 9 different U.S. states.
The results are truly astounding. Olbinski is a wedding photographer by profession, currently residing in Scottsdale, Arizona. But his impeccable timelapse photography that captures the raw power of our environment cements his place as an artist to watch. While driving across the plains to make Vorticity, Olbinski photographed seven tornadoes in various stages between April 15th and June 15th of last summer.
Olbinski shot with multiple Canon cameras and lenses, including the 5DS R, 5D Mark III, 11-24mm F4, and others. Watch the video on Vimeo, then follow Olbinski on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and his website.
A Taste of Vienna – Film Spektakel
Shot by in-demand Viennese production company Film Spektakel, A Taste of Vienna delivers on its title, flying the viewer around the famous and tucked away areas of the renowned city in a cohesive journey. Producers Thomas Pöcksteiner and Peter Jablonowski planned every frame before production began, and then shot across every inch of Vienna over the course of a year while still working full time and studying at university.
The end result is astonishing, in large part due to the meticulous sound design by Benjamin Bauernfeind which draws you in while breathing life into every space. The city of Vienna supported the making of the timelapse project, granting the production company access to typically inaccessible areas of the city, including City Hall and the National Library.
A full breakdown of the equipment used is available on the Vimeo page for the video. The Canon 11-24mm F4 lens makes an appearance, as do the Canon 5D Mark III and the 2X Canon 6D. Watch the video here, then check out the website for FilmSpektakel and the website for sound designer Benjamin Baurnfeind.
In Praise of Shadows – Justin Tierney
Technically, this constitutes three entries – each segment of Justin Tierney’s At The CONFLUX, his three-part timelapse project chronicling the “rhythm of urban Japan and its people,” is necessary viewing. His spellbinding journey through the streets and skies of Tokyo earned Tierney First Place in the Cityscape/Industrial category in the LA Time-lapse Film Festival, as well as Best-in-Show.
The classically trained composer and accomplished filmmaker escapes from the city in the third segment, In Praise of Shadows, and incorporates the subtleties and nuance of Japanese aesthetics while capturing timelapse photographs of the sprawling Japanese transportation system. Lifting its name from the identically-titled 1933 Jun’ichirō Tanizaki essay on aestheticism, this entry of At the CONFLUX is our personal favorite.The timelapses, according to Tierney, were shot in raw on a Canon 5D Mark III and a Sony A7s. Once you’ve watched In Praise of Shadows on Vimeo, you can watch the other two parts of At the CONFLUX on the project’s website. Follow Justin on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.
Lofoten Eternal Lights – Jose Hervás
By first setting the stage with first-rate timelapse depictions of the untouched lands of Norway, Hervás creates a world of escape before introducing you to the northern lights. You’ll always remember the first time you viewed the section beginning at 1:11 – even after repeated viewing the hyper movement of the northern lights evokes powerful emotion.
Hervás used the Canon 5Dsr, Canon 5D Mark III, and the Canon 6D along with the Mslider dolly for controlled, smooth movement. Watch the full video on Vimeo, then see what Hervás is up to on his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
New York, New York – Dimid Vazhnik
Belarus-based photographer Dimid Vazhnik kept himself pretty busy during his one-month vacation in New York City. The awe-inspiring timelapse footage he compiled while shooting across Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan is paired with a thrilling instrumental rock version of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams for a truly unforgettable viewing experience.
One of the most impressive feats of the video is the indescribable glow that Vazhnik’s lens lends to the entire city – through his eyes, this stereotypically-depicted city of rain and concrete is vibrantly bursting with neon color. Even if you’ve spent your entire life living in New York, this timelapse project will make you reexamine your favorite city.
A full list of the equipment used is posted in the video description on Vimeo. Vazhnik used the Canon 5D Mark III camera and several lenses. Watch the video, follow him on Vimeo, then check out his Instagram account.
The Horn – Andrew Geraci
The Matterhorn hardly needs an introduction – the most infamous mountain in the Alps is as unforgiving as it is magical. The photographer responsible for the Matterhorn also has quite the reputation – Andrew Geraci helmed the timelapse video that serves as the ominous opening sequence for acclaimed Netflix series “House of Cards.” Put the two titans together, and you have a timelapse project of considerable scope.
The timelapse video was shot for Red Bull TV’s new helicopter-rescue series “The Horn,” and the process of making it was part adventure, part peril. Geraci and his team spent 280 hours in brutally cold weather conditions capturing over 8,000 images in the course of 30 days. Geraci contracted pneumonia and bronchitis during the shoot, but at least his efforts paid off masterfully.
Vegascapes – Dustin Farrell
Strap in. Las Vegas was tailormade for timelapse photography projects, and Farrell’s depiction of Sin City is simply brilliant. The constant neon tinge of the city pulsates like a heartbeat when in a hyperlapse, and Farrell doubles down on this effect by timing the transitions in rhythm with a strong electronic dance track that transports the viewer to an EDM dreamscape without setting foot inside a club.
Farrell is not content to simply utilize timelapse for its own sake – the effect here always serves a clear artistic purpose. Let’s be frank – few, if any, other timelapse projects will make you more hyped for the drop. Farrell also sells stock footage of Vegas, and rightfully so – his timelapse project is the best publicity the city could ask for.
The Lion City II: Majulah – Keith Loutit
Some artists are so dedicated to their vision that they toil tirelessly for years to bring their ideas to life. Keith Loutit wanted to convey the ever-changing nature of cityscapes, he wanted to combat the notion that a landscape is fixed in time. 500 days of shooting and three years later, his timelapse masterpiece, The Lion City II: Majulah, sets a new standard for what timelapse projects can accomplish.
Over the course of four-and-a-half minutes, the viewer journeys through time and watches Singapore morph and change before their eyes. Entire construction projects come to fruition in a matter of moments, the cranes and bulldozers of progress morph into worker ants expanding their home. Loutit ultimately took more than 1 million photos, and less than 25% of them made it into the final product.
Loutit shot the project on two Nikon D4s, and modified his own Nikon lenses to get the effects he wanted. View the entire video on Vimeo, then pay a visit to Loutit’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Patagonia 8K – Martin Heck
The 8K in the title should be a hint – for the full effect of this gorgeous timelapse project, it’s best to view it on a monitor that can do its high definition justice. Heck journeyed over 7,500 kilometers across Chile and Argentina, capturing close to 100,000 images in stunning 8K in order to complete this project. Along the way, he managed to total his car and experience a volcanic explosion firsthand.
The entire project was captured on a medium format camera to look as uncompromisingly realistic as possible. Part painting, part excursion, part therapy for the soul, Patagonia 8K is best experienced in a dark room with the volume up and a Kleenex handy. When you see an unfiltered night sky, you’ll kick yourself for not booking a trip to Argentina sooner.
Heck used plenty of equipment, including his trusted Pentax 645Z. View the video, and an equipment list, on YouTube. Afterward, see Heck’s other work on his website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Mirror City Timelapse – Michael Shainblum
As Shainblum readily admits, Mirror City Timelapse was conceived as a project “completely out of the norm” from the outset. More so than any other timelapse project we shared, Shainblum’s project is an abstract art piece at its core. The timelapse was born from Shainblum’s intense interest and mirroring imagery, and his determination to approach timelapse photograph in a fresh, original way.
The result is hypnotic, a dazzling kaleidoscope of cityscapes creating shapes and patterns completely absent in actual urban areas. Drawn from recognizable and remote areas of cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the images provide a “plethora of visual stimulation,” as the artist notes. Get lost in Mirror City and soak up some artistic inspiration.