Monday, December 19, 2011

Fall 2011 Time-lapses in Seoul

This summer, while exploring a bit in Seoul, I met an elderly gentleman taking photos with which to make a time-lapse movie. I didn't really know what it was, so I looked it up when I returned home. The first link I found was to some spectacularly amazing movies by a photographer named Terje Sørgjerd. Check out some of his videos on (but only after you watch mine, please^^). I also found a few by Philip Bloom including this one he made in Dubai. There's lots more you can find on your own. I was inspired. I had the same camera as those guys, so why couldn't I make similar movies? I did some research, bought an intervalometer and a tripod and set out to try some myself. All set, right? Well, it is much harder than I expected, not only do you have to take photos in the same spot for hours, but it takes even longer to process everything so it looks good. However, the results are so cool, it is worth the effort. I'll spare you the details about the processing. After I get better at it, I might explain in detail, but for now I'll just show some still frames and locations of the results of my efforts.

My very first time-lapse was taken from the roof of the apartment building I live in. In fact, several clips were taken from this roof, or out my window. For my first, I tried to get the "holy-grail" day to night transition. I probably should have startd with something simpler. I wasn't very happy with the result on my first (or second, or third, or fourth...) go around at processing it, but after I got some more processing experience, I think I salvaged this one.

Still from my very first time-lapse on 2011.09.02
For my second time lapse, I tried a sunset - also probably a bit to ambitious, but I think I got lucky and it is one of my best.  It was taken on the Seoul National University Campus overlooking Shillim-dong.

That weekend was a holiday in Korea, so I decided to go to Namsan Mountain and take a time-lapse of the sunset and day to night transition of the city. This one gave me almost as many headaches as the first. First of  all, I carried my camera, computer and tripod up the mountain - which is quite heavy and I was not used to it. Second, the light wasn't that good, but since I'd come so far, I was determined to get whatever I could. Processing was a nightmare (on the first, second, third, fourth... times) but now I think it is OK. I learned a few tricks with Photoshop getting this one to look decent. Definitely a spot I plan to return for another try when the weather isn't so cold.

For my next project, I wanted to try a sunrise, so I woke up at 4:30 am and found a spot in one of the buildings on SNU campus and took about 750 photos. However, it was a disaster to process, and I just couldn't get it to look good. So, sadly, I deleted it. On that same day, the weather was quite good, so I went to Dongjak bridge to capture the sunset. The clouds were really interesting. First I did a wide shot, and then after the sun went down, I zoomed in a bit to see the lights on the bridge and 63 building turn on. The zoom shot is a bit out of focus and over exposed and yellowish at the beginning, but not too bad. Another spot I plan to return in the spring. In the video, there is also a short clip of the cars speeding by on the Olympic highway I took on my way back to the subway.

Back in February, I visited 광화문 and it had been in my mind as a good spot for time-lapse since I started making them.


The next time-lapse was in a spot I saw from the 5511 bus going to the subway station near 승실대학교. The road is called 상도로. This is one of my favorite clips, and I was smart enough to bring along a few episodes of NPR's"Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" to listen to while photographing.


Last year, during late October, we went on a little tour of Seoul with some of the lab members. I remember going to a small island in the Han river called 선유도 and seeing a fantastic sunset. I went back a year later with my fancy camera and took two time-lapse clips.  The sunset clip, is actually not from the island, but from the north side of the river. It was very windy that day, and the clouds looked really cool.


The next clip was just random. I had no plan. Turned out OK, though. Location was near 동대문.

The final clip I took before going to Jeju Island (I took many photos and a video there) and Boston for a couple of conferences was from the window of my apartment. I was working on my presentations for the conferences and suffering from time-lapse withdrawal.

The video is a compilation of about 6000 photos. I had extreme trouble picking music. I settled on a brass arrangement of the final movement of the Winter concerto of Vivaldi's Four Seasons played by the London Brass. You can buy the album here. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Looking forward to some warmer weather so I can do some more video in the spring.


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