Tag Archives: timelapse
January 2, 2011

PVX: Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador

Here’s a little video about my time spent in Baños, Ecuador (and no, before you ask, “Baños” does not refer to a “bathroom,” but rather the thermal baths the area is known for!)

A little bit of background info:

We don’t particularly like the song I edited this video to, mostly because it is way overplayed down here. Seemed appropriate, however, since we heard it approximately 342,000 times while we were in Baños.

Not everything you see in the video happened on this trip. I have a lot of footage from last year when I brought a few UAS students down to Ecuador. I decided to incorporate some of those clips because, well, we didn’t get to do all those things on this trip (mostly because Oksana was busy taking 4 hours of Spanish lessons every day!)

Our last two nights were spent at Luna Runtun, a resort and spa perched on a cliff, directly above Baños.  The first night, I decided to experiment with my DSLR and took one photo of Baños every minute over the course of two hours (it was pretty easy, I was sitting in a volcanic hot tub at the time.)  My hope was that I would be able to use the frames to create a tiny video clip of Baños at sunset.  So that I could pan across the image during the short video, I made sure to move the camera a little bit every fifteen minutes.  By cropping the video, I thought I’d be able to center and move the video frame cleverly enough to hide those camera movements.  Well, because of the minor — but noticeable — shift in perspective with each camera move, that didn’t work out so great.  I tried to finesse it a bit in post, but then realized I was spending way too much time on a video that was supposed to be a quick edit, anyway.  So… I just kind of dropped the clip in, anyway.  I think it still looks kind of cool, even if it is jerky at times.

January 28, 2009

UAS Peru Trip

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You might think that traveling to Peru and bearing witness to the wonders of Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I would have thought so, too, except that I just got back from my third trip there.

I’m always the one advocating some new and exotic locale whenever Oksana and I plan our travels (with the whole world to see, why keep going back to the same places?), but somehow Peru just keeps falling into my lap.

The first time I went was in 1998, when my roommate and I stayed in South America for a couple months after a university trip to Ecuador.  The second time, in 2002, was when I was invited by the university to help lead a class through the country.  Last month, six years later, opportunity came a’knockin’ once again.  Peru had treated me well twice before; how could I say “no?”

Even with my desire to see something new, these recurring trips never disappoint.  The first time there, we flew to Machu Picchu on a helicopter because the train tracks leading to the ruins had washed out in a storm.  The second time, we hiked the Inca Trail and visited many more of the ruins around Cusco.  This time, I was a part of a group that headed down into the Amazon basin for a few days in the jungle.

This was also the first university trip upon which I lugged my video camera around.  The students gave me permission to point my lens in their direction after I promised to make them a great DVD of their adventures.  I shot 14 miniDV tapes worth of footage while we were down there and I plan to add a few more hours of interview footage in the coming weeks.  Before I started editing a project of this magnitude, however, I needed to familiarize myself with what I already had.  It seemed like putting together a short music video would accomplish that goal nicely.

While many of these snippets of video will only mean something to those of us that were in Peru, I trust that the imagery will convey not only the amazing sites we saw, but also how fun, adventurous, diverse, and just downright awesome the people in our group turned out to be.

March 9, 2007

Kalahaku Overlook

Haleakala Crater from Kalahaku Overlook

I have a new theory.  The time I spend playing with a picture in Photoshop is inversely proportional to the quality of the original image.  On the face of it, that seems obvious, right?  If the photo sucks, you’re really going to have to work it over in the digital darkroom.  But then, if the picture is good, Photoshop work is more like play, and I can spend hours playing…  Okay, so maybe my new theory doesn’t have a proof.

This is a stitched panorama of the immense Haleakala Crater on Maui Island, Hawaii.  I believe it’s taken from the Kalahaku Overlook, but because Oksana and I stumbled upon this scenic view, I could be mistaken.  I wrote a bit about that day.

The view is awesome, of course, in the true sense of the word.  We spent at least 45 minutes hanging out at the railing, took countless pictures and even a time-lapse video of the clouds boiling below.  And though I like the panoramic photo you see here, I don’t think it’s one of my better pictures.  I wish I could put my thumb on why.

Is there too much sky?  Maybe, but if I crop it out the panorama becomes too thin.  Is it that the depth of the valley doesn’t translate?  We were practically standing on a vertical cliff, but here it looks like you could almost along the dip in the middle until you reached the crater floor below.

I tried a dozen variations of cropping, trying to make things right.  I lightened up some of the foreground elements, trying to create a sense of depth.  I even spent some time cloning out a huge foreground handrail in the lower right corner.  I know the scene is good; I just can’t seem to make the photo do it justice. 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t post it on my blog, now, does it?

It’s hard to see in the small version of this panorama, but the black lava flows and red cinder cones make for some attractive (also in the true sense of the word!) scenery.  I wish we had planned an excursion down into that crater.  As it was, we were only on Haleakala for the sunrise — we didn’t think to bring the hiking gear, extra water, maps, and cabin reservations that would have made a hike down Sliding Sands Trail really worthwhile.  Maybe next time.

Canon Digital Rebet XT
Date: 12 August 2005
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 1/1000 second
Aperture: F/5
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Stitched with Autostitch, cropped, cloned extra rock on right, dodged foreground rocks, auto color adjustment

Continue reading to see the actual detail in the final panorama…


January 12, 2007

HAVO Lights

Kilauea Steam

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The great tourist myth of Hawaii, perpetrated by all the television travel documentaries, is that you’ll see rivers of flowing lava.  Indeed you will, if you go to any of the museums with video display terminals.  Apparently, the really fantastic displays occur, oh, every ten or twenty years.  And when they do, cars are piled up for miles and miles as even the locals cram closer for a look.

That’s not to say that you won’t get a chance to see some geothermal activity if you visit.  A heli-tour over Kilauea might give you a peek down into its active crater.  Sulfur steam vents abound in Hawaii’s Volcano National park.  And if it’s the frozen black lava you’re after…  Well!  The Big Island’s got more of that than you can imagine.

One of my favorite nights on Kona was spent watching lava spill into the sea.  The active craters of Kilauea are miles inland, but underground lava tubes transport a steady stream of molten rock to the sea.  Where it meets the water, a huge cloud of steam billows upward.  Due to a terrible parking space, we had to hurry to get out onto the lava field before dark.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 16 August 2005
Focal Length: 48mm
Shutter: 30 seconds
Aperture: F/4.5
Photoshop: Cropped, minor cloning away of lens artifacts,
somewhat extensive use of burn/dodge tools (never exceeding 30%)


September 18, 2006

Old Arbat

Arbat PortraitOn our last day in Moscow – but still three days from home, because, you know, Moscow is, like, on the other side of the planet – Oksana and I returned to Arbat to have our portraits painted.

Earlier on the trip we had walked the length of both streets known as Arbat – Old and New.  New Arbat was a four-lane highway bordered by loud neon, bright casinos, and TGI Friday’s.  Old Arbat was pleasantly pedestrian with souvenir stalls, outdoor restaurants, musicians with hat-pushing assistants, and dozens of portrait and caricature artists.  It was these artists’ work, photo-realistic and painted while you wait, that captured my attention and imagination.

While Oksana put her Russian to good use comparison shopping for prices, I wandered among the painters.  I stopped behind one woman who was painting a portrait of a young boy.  To my eye, the monochrome image was almost photorealistic.  Watching her perfectly recreate his eyes, I decided that if the price was right, she would be the one to paint us.

It seemed as though most of the artists on Arbat had agreed to set their prices uniformly: 700 rubles for one person, 1500 for two; doubled again for color.  You could either leave a favorite photograph and pick up your portrait later, or sit still for an hour while they painted from the source.  It seemed incredible to me that anyone could paint so well, so quickly, but on this street in Moscow, that particular talent was in abundance.

Oksana’s cousin, Vanya, was with us that day and because he was planning to wait around with us, I convinced her to ask our painter if it would be alright if we videotaped her process.  I could tell that our selected artist, Lena, thought it a rather strange request, but she was polite enough to rearrange her easel for the camera, anyway.  I set the camera on the ground, against a wall and out of the way of Arbat’s foot traffic, and started recording in LP mode.

We sat down and began our suspenseful hour-and-a-half wait.

(Don’t want to wade through more prose?  Here’s a link straight to the video.)


March 15, 2006

Post-ITS II: Electric Boogaloo

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Four months after we created the Post-It Note mosaic of our boss at work, we decided to take it down. Ever since I published the accompanying time-lapse video, ideas have been batted around on how to memorialize its removal. When the big day came a few weeks ago, we didn’t record another time-lapse video… though you wouldn’t know it, looking at the final video. You might like to watch it without spoilers before I start talking about it.


October 31, 2005


Abstract-but close up!Back in September, I ran across a website that had a tutorial for making Post-it note mosaics. I didn’t even read it, just skimmed it long enough to realize that they used Photoshop for their pre-process trickery. I knew I could do what they had done; I wanted to do what they had done. But where? And more importantly, why? National Boss Day! I work in a lively office and I knew that something like this would go over well. I looked up National Boss Day (a Hallmark holiday if ever there was one) on the internet and discovered that it wasn’t until October 16th (ironically, a Sunday). I placed a little squiggly mark on my calendar; something to remind me. The week before the 16th rolled around, I called a coworker to see if they’d be interested in spending Sunday night arranging thousands of Post-its on a wall in our boss’s office. I asked him because he had a key. Although he thought the idea was great, he mentioned a small problem: On Saturday night, both he and the boss were getting on a plane bound for Orlando. They’d be spending the entire week at the EDUCAUSE conference. What to do, what to do. Why, take advantage of the boss’s absence and bring the whole department into it, of course! That week, I set myself to work. There was much to do. (more…)