Jon's Blog on Visual Matters

First test of Timelapse Slider in the Lake District

Running a timelapse one winter morning.

After my timelapse project i Norway last year I bought myself a Konova motorised slider with ambitions of doing more exiting timelapse.  It's basically a metal rod that sits on two tripods, with a computer controlled motor that moves the camera along the slider.  The motor will move the camera a few millimetres between each frame.  The overall effect is a timelapse with a moving camera.

I arrived in Keswick on a Friday afternoon in February, and checked into a very nice little B&B (more on that later).  I wanted to try and climb up a small mountain on Saturday morning for sunrise, so I checked with the local tourist information where I was likely to be able to walk up in the dark without getting lost or encountering too much snow.  Latrigg, a 368m small peak on the way up to Skiddaw seemed a good choice.  A popular route for residents and tourists alike, and well marked.

After a bite to eat I headed down to Derwent Water for my first proper timelapse test along the shore.  Waterproof boots are useful when you're setting your tripods up in water!

Here is the resulting timelapse.  The shots are 6 second exposures with an ND filter to smooth out the water.  This is a quick 720p render, the shot will eventually be rendered in 4K.

More Photos from Kjerringvik, Norway

Sunrise at Low Tide, Kjerringvik, Norway.

Sunrise at Low Tide, Kjerringvik, Norway.

This is my favorite picture from the Norway trip last year, and it may also be the best picture I've taken so far, I'm very happy with it.

Technically this photo is HDR, although I haven't pushed it more than I would a non-HDR image.  Mainly I wanted to get a bit more detail in the bright areas, and reduce the noise in the dark foreground.  I had to blend the exposures manually to make sure the sea part of the shot used the longest exposure to make it completely smooth.  I actually did this in Adobe After Effects, as it allows editing in 32-bit, something Photoshop doesn't. 

Before I travelled to Norway I bought two ND filters, the Hoya Pro-1 ND64 and ND1000.  These are 6-stop and 10-stop ND filters, and allows very long exposures.  I used the 10-stop filter for this photo, with exposures of 30seconds, 8 seconds and 2 seconds.

More photos from Kjerringvik on Flickr:


Norway timelapse video now on Youtube in UltraHD 4K!

I post-produced my timelapse entirely in 4K, which was a first for me.  Shots out of a DSLR are higher resolution than 4K anyway, so it's great to be able to use that resolution.  Unfortunately I don't have a 4K monitor, so I've been unable to watch my own film in the highest possible quality.

Suitable intermediate compression formats for 4K is a bit thin on the ground yet, so I used 16-bit TIFF files (at full camera resolution, 18 megapixel) between Lightroom and After Effects, and 12-bit 4K DPX files between After Effects and Premiere.  Both these formats are uncompressed, and added up to over 500GB.  I was unable to make a final master sequence using DPX, since Adobe Media Encoder can't add audio to an image sequence when compressing into H.264, so I had to export the files for Vimeo/Youtube upload directly from Premiere.

Youtube now allows 4K uploads, so here it is.  Vimeo doesn't yet, but I'm sure they will soon enough.

My timelapse from Norway is now online!

Last summer I spent a week in Kjerringvik, Norway.  It's a beautiful area on the coast, and my family have a summerhouse there, which my grandfather built himself in the 1950s.  Due to rationing after the war he was forced to use recycled materials as new materials weren't allowed for summerhouses.  So the main structure of the house is built from wooden banana boxes stuffed with newspapers and nailed together with thousands and thousands of nails!  It's still standing, but now has a more modern extension added on.  The final shot of the film is the view from the balcony in font of the house.

I hadn't been there for many years, but this time I took my camera, tripod and some ND-filters along to try and make my first timelapse film.  The night this far north is fairly short, so sunset was around 23:00, and sunrise around 4:00, but it never really gets completely dark.  So most nights I went out before sunset, and came back in the morning after sunrise.

In total I took nearly 14,000 shots as part of timelapse sequences.  A few of them are HDR, with 3 exposures per frame, and the opening two shots are examples of this.  They were processed in Adobe Lightroom, exported as 16-bit TIFF sequences, and then manually merged in Adobe After Effects.  It was a somewhat elaborate workflow with massive amounts of files, but I wanted to get the most out the pictures with as little noise as possible, and I didn't want the 'HDR-look' you can often get with automated software.


Trip to Madeira 2014

In April 2014 I went to Madeira for a week with my dad.  He's keen on mountain walking, so that's what we spent the week doing.  He walks pretty fast (especially for being 70), but I had photography as an excuse to slow the pace down.

Madeira is an incredibly beautiful place, and I'm definitely going back sometime, possibly on my own to just do photography.  That way I can bring a tripod, stay in one spot for a while, and do sunrises and sunsets without having to consider someone else's schedule.


Architectural Photographs of London

I don't manage to walk around London taking pictures as often as I would like, but here are a few shots I've taken at various times over the past couple of years.

Animating Photographs in 3D with After Effects

Back in 2012 I worked on a documentary about the life of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. With somewhat limited access to film footage from his life (he died in 1912), we decided instead to animate photograps.  I did about 40 animations in total, this is a selection of some of the more complex ones.    I've added the original still picture to this selection to make it easier to see the transformation.

Most of the animations are made by cutting the picture up into layers, arranging them in 3D space, and animating a camera around them using Adobe After Effects.  The two photographs of Booth himself also has a slight displacement map to make it appear as if the camera is moving around his head.  Only a suble effect is possible before the image breaks up using this method.


Viking Re-Enactment at Hordamuseet in Bergen

I made a visit to the Hordamuseet outside Bergen in Norway in May 2013.  It's a museum featuring traditional Norwegian housing, boats, tools and textiles.

On this particular day a local group of sword fighters were doing a combat re-enactment of viking sword play, ending with a 'charge' towards the excited audience.

I suspect the group is more interested in combat than historically realistic costumes, as you can see several markings and protective gear of clearly modern origin.



Trip to Barcelona 2013

Pictures from a trip to Barcelona with the family in 2013.  One day I got up just after 7am and headed up to Park Guell while the rest of the family were sound asleep.
I got rewarded with sunrise shots of Park Guell before the place was swamped with tourists.

I'm in particular proud of the shot of the empty Dragon Stairway in the early morning sun.  It's probably a shot that can only be taken in the spring or autumn, when sunrise is late enough that the tourists won't have arrived yet.