17 Dec 2014

Capturing London in Time-Lapse

I was recently involved in a fantastic photography project, involving 40 photographers and London. The idea was for each photographer to capture a little piece of London in time-lapse. It was organised by Haje Jan Kamps, the CEO of Triggertrap, a company that has created a mobile dongle and app that helps with taking time-lapse photography (among other things). A group of us met up on a beautiful sunny winter's day in King's Cross and had a few introductory presentations from Haje, Nicholas Goodden (a London street photographer) and Chad Gordon Higgins (a professional time-lapse photographer) before heading out to create our time-lapses.

Having lived in London for 20 years the options for venues seemed endless. I'd been mulling over a few ideas - St. Pancras station, Oxford Circus, but didn't feel they were quite right. I wanted to capture something that meant something to me, or that had featured in my time living here, so I headed to the Ebury Bridge just south of Victoria Station where there's a great view of the trains weaving along in and out of the station, but more importantly with Battersea Power Station (possibly my favourite building in London) in the distance. The light wasn't great, with the low afternoon sun obscured behind a building to the west and the power station now sadly mostly under scaffolding and surrounded by cranes and in a distant haze.

One still shot of the trains from Ebury Bridge

I set up my tripod, camera and intervalometer (I wasn't using the Triggertrap dongle and app, as I'd only learned how to do time-lapses the previous day, playing around with my intervalometer at home, so I didn't feel confident enough to try a different method!). I stood there for 25 minutes, taking a 1/15th second shot every 2 seconds. People with young children came and looked at the view and a couple asked me what I was doing. No-one seems to know what time-lapse photography is! In 25 minutes I took enough photographs for 30 seconds of footage, at 25 frames per second. Sometimes there were no trains for a couple of minutes, which I knew would result in gaps in the movement of the finished time-lapse, but that's just how it goes (and I knew that only a couple of seconds of footage would be used in the final cut anyway). Click here to see the full 30 seconds.

I took a bus a short distance to Sloane Square, another place I've spent a fair amount of time in during my time in London. It was a busy pre-Christmas Saturday afternoon with huge numbers of people, buses, taxis and cars passing by. I stood opposite Peter Jones and set the equipment up again, this time taking about 20 minutes' worth of shots. A photographer from Romford chatted to me for a while, which helped to pass the time as the shutter clicked away. Click here to see the result of that shoot - busy place! The man headed off east and I then wandered up the road a bit to the edge of Duke of York Square. I set up my tripod out of the way of the foot-traffic, but within minutes an officious security guard told me that I was on private land and had to move. I asked him where the public land started and it was about 4 feet away. I moved my gear the 4 feet but was now in the way of the people passing by, so people had to skirt around me. I was worried about people knocking the outside tripod leg, so I stood protecting it, taking up even more room. I didn't feel too concerned as it was a wide pavement, but oh it would have been so much easier if I'd just been allowed to stay where I was to start with (on private land)!

Even though buses passed that could take me back home and drop me outside my house, I had to head back to King's Cross to submit my work. The journey was pretty quick (fortunately no problems on the tube) and once back at the Triggertrap office they downloaded my shots and I chatted to a few of the team. Nico Goodden also showed up, having taken shots on a no. 10 bus to Hammersmith. I mentioned that I'd read his blog on camera straps that he'd been testing, and he said I could have any of the spare ones, so that was worth the journey back up there! I eventually headed home, chatting to fellow time-lapser Eddie Botsio, and downloaded the photos myself and uploaded a couple of the "videos" onto youtube.

It was a great experience, helping me to learn something new (there's always new techniques to learn in photography!), meeting some other inspiring photographers, and being part of a wonderful project. The final video has now been put together, and obviously I'm glad that some of my work got included - including a 3-second shot of the trains and a 1-second shot of the traffic at Sloane Square. There's some incredible footage in the final video including my two favourite bits - boats going through Camden Lock and the view from inside one of the Emirates cable cars going across the Thames. Nico's bus footage is pretty cool too.

Now that the final video is out, it's received loads of positive publicity, with Haje and Chad appearing on LondonLive this morning, and the video spreading around UK newspapers (eg the Independent) and websites (eg. the Londonist, Mashable). Here's the youtube version.

Thanks to Haje and team for organising - I'm proud to have been part of such a cool project and awesome result!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sophie, loving the trains! Makes the best intro! Great meeting you too and glad you enjoy the camera strap!