A Hyperlapse Demo

I have this great piece of kit and a good dose of experience in relation to time lapse photography. I’ve began to notice a few TV shows using moving time lapse videos on things like Britain’s Got Talent and Got To Dance. I have the kit to do it, and have pretty good rates too!

If you have a TV show, feature film, music video, promo or anything else that could benefit from this sort of shot, please get in touch with me for availability and I can help you. The kit is brilliant and can go in pretty much any direction you want over a period of speeds. The overall effect id quite spectacular:

When Cinema Succeeds

I’m a fan of photography, of DSLR in cinematography, of time-lapse and slow motion. Having seen a trailer for a documentary which used all these techniques I ended up booking tickets and heading into the heart of Central London to the Institute Of Contemporary Arts, one of only two places in London showing the feature. The Chasing Ice documentary follows the progression of the Extreme Ice Surveyors over a period of years. And what it shows is spectacular:

Their pioneering work of constructing a way to photograph icebergs and landscapes over a period of years is something the world hasn’t seen before. What they achieve is a way of showing that our world doesn’t follow the pattern we expect throughout our four seasons. The icebergs and poles don’t “grow, shrink, grow, shrink” as you’d expect. It’s more “shrink, shrink, shrink, shrink“. This documentary clearly shows it. And just for reference, that rock of ice that breaks and churns in the opening of the trailer is about half the size of Manhattan.

However, this blog isn’t a piece for or against the argument of “climate change”. What I actually wanted to write about is something far more basic, and less of a political storm. A few days ago I wrote on the failures of the local Odeon Cinema to reach the basic standard I expected from such a chain, citing poor upkeep and baffling design to their screening rooms. In order to accommodate more screens (and in turn take more money) it appears they’re sacrificing the real cinema experience for profit. I still await their reply. Less “Fanatical About Film“, more “Fanatical About Profit, Less So On The Customer“. But that’d probably be too long for their billboards.

But the Institute Of Contemporary Arts succeeded where Odeon Cinema clearly failed. The ICA has only two screens, they have old fashioned movie theatre chairs (in sensible solid rows), their prices were good, their employees were great, the screen was clear and bright, the sound was perfect and it was packed to the rafters (literally).

So take note, Odeon! Some people like the idea of running their own pub or hotel. I might just run my own cinema just to be your competition…

A Symi Holiday: Day 7

Today I had a “reset day”, took holiday snaps of Symi in infrared, had pasta instead of pizza, was verbally abused by local children and watched a man jump from space.

But firstly, hello to all my new readers! People from all across the world have visited the blog in the past few days including the UK, Greece, Australia, Italy, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and even South Africa. Amazing! It would be great if you left a message using the Comments box below. Let me know where you’re from!

Sunday is a day of rest. I had feared with Symi being a fairly religious place that bells by the dozens would ring out from dusk till dawn. Thankfully not. Instead I slept like a baby. Saturday evening had been a late one, stretching into the early hours as I spent quite a while going through the photos for the test time lapse, tweaking and editing here and there to get it looking good. Of course, those images were just a dry run. From Monday onwards I intended to capture various areas of Symi to make a short picturesque trailer. The idea was to have it look almost like a slideshow of photos, with just the tiniest amount of movement in them as the sun passes, stretching shadows across walls and reflecting off windows, etc. But this was my “reset day”, basically meaning a day to get back on track. I do this if I’ve been on a week of nightshift and I’m switching to dayshift, for example. Effectively it can either be a long or short day, in order to defy the jet-lag style shift to my body clock. This was a short day.

I had woken up with food on my mind. Any single self-catering holidaymaker will understand the fridge being empty, apart from bottled water. The only food of substance in the apartment was some form of Nutella I had bought alongside my essentials (instant coffee and milk). Two spoonfuls of chocolate spread had been my breakfast.

Come mid afternoon, after doing some hand-washed laundry (there’s no dry cleaners around here, nor a washing machine in sight) I decided to try some infrared photography around Symi. For those unfamiliar, infrared is a type of light that humans can’t see. So these aren’t normal looking photos. Spectacularly in infrared green foliage looks blue, the sky can be black and everyday colours lose their saturation. It’s a world away from the norm.

Below are three images taken today of the same place; one black and white, one full colour and one infrared.

Infrared comparison

Notice the subtle differences between the black and white version and the infrared version. It adds a twist to everyday photography giving dream-like results, sometimes producing images that look like they could be from another world. It’s fascinating, considering it is our world. We just can’t see it.

Kali Strata walkway, Symi
Click the image for a 360-degree interactive panoramic of Kali Strata in Symi, Greece.

When reaching the end of the Kali Strata steps I realised my legs weren’t burning with pain, like they were when I first walked this route. Clearly, a sign that my body was slowly customising to help with all these stairs. At last, another step towards being fit and healthy! So I headed to the pizza place…

At the Dolphin restaurant I was pleased that the owner recognised me. With a wide smile and genuine pleasure he took my order of number 22 and 7; garlic bread and cheese followed by pasta with fresh tomato sauce, tuna, onion, garlic, green pepper and herbs. A fabulous meal indeed, finished off with a fresh coffee. Although clearly my eyes were bigger than my stomach!

To burn off some calories, I took a short stroll along the main street and across the bridge, snapping a few images along the way. I had left it quite late in the day for doing infrared photography. Strong sunshine causes object to absorb and reflect a lot of infrared, but this was late afternoon. I had already worked out when doing the time lapse stuff that even a few hours before actual sunset means the harbour and most of the valley are already in shadow. The sun was sinking fast enough that whilst looking through the zoomed lens on the camera you could actually see the shadows racing across the landscape. It was now or never. Or next week.

Infrared Symi Harbour

Some of the images came out really well. They have that look of scratch art, where an image is created by etching off black ink painted over coloured layers of clay or paper. Given the race against time which the sun was clearly winning, I didn’t stay downtown very long.

One thing I noticed today was that the kids playing in the basketball court down in the village were nowhere near as loud as their projected voices were by the time they got up  the slope! I wondered if they were aware of this amplification. I’m sure the locals up the hill knew all about it.

Wandering back up the dreaded stairs of doom, I noticed there had been a lot more kids around than usual. I didn’t know if this was just a lack of observation, or if there was a reason for it. My walk took me passed a little girl sitting on her doorstep who’s hair was being plaited by a little boy, possibly her brother. The boy and another friend looked up at me as I walked by the trio, so I responded with a whispered “calimera” which I had heard Ian, The Saviour, use on our walk on Tuesday. Unbeknownst to me till later in the evening, this meant “good morning”. I’d been saying it all week to everyone, at all times of the day. The boy not pleating hair looked over at me, frowning in a puzzled way. I kept walking. He looked to the other two and asked them a question in Greek before turning to me and saying something. I didn’t catch it, nor did I respond. He chose another Greek word and shouted it in my direction. I still didn’t respond. He shouted again. The other pair were quietly giggling by this point, so I only assume it was some form of childish goad or insult. I had no way to respond, so I just kept walking. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the verbal one shrug his shoulders and glance over at the girl, mumbling something under his breath which I imagined to be something similar to “why did he say that!?”. It was funny to them. Looking back, it was funny to me too.

Symi by infrared

It would be a great shame for me to post a blog without mentioning a stray kitten or cat. So here’s a mention for day 7. Just down the path from the flat was one of the cutest but saddest ones I’d seen. A kitten that could only have been a few weeks old, curled up asleep on top of a wheelie bin. It was clearly homeless due to the mess it was in. Its dominant white with black flecks were splattered with dirt and it had dried mud all over its face. It had obviously been in a scrap or two as well. Such a terrible way for something to live, considering the small life it’s already had and the life a loving home could give. I’ll try get a photo of it for next time.

And so, that was that. Short and sweet. The body should have been successfully reset, meaning I could plan a sunrise time lapse for early Monday or Tuesday morning.

A Symi Holiday: Day 5

Dragonflies, butterflies, lizards and cats.

It was yet another delayed rise this morning after last nights late adventures out for some night photography (which turned into an unexpected part 2 of yesterdays blog, just in case you missed it). My ambush this morning wasn’t kittens. It was lizards. About a dozen, like some fabulous piece of living mechanical clockwork, stepping in time to what I imagined to be music similar to Summer Of Love by Steps. I have no idea why, that’s just what popped into my head when I was watching. The tall trees sprouting roots between the rocks behind the apartment appears to be a great location for the reptiles to congregate. And dance.

Symi lizard

The plan today (and these things were planned. Sort of.) was to head upwards. Downwards meant climbing back up again, and my lower half wasn’t prepared to get involved. The endless ruins in the old town above were full of textures and destruction, perfect for desktop wallpaper photos. The term “rat run” fits perfectly, with routes shooting off in different directions. I had hoped to remember some of the walk from Tuesday, but it turned out that all roads lead to the same place. Or someones house. The locals appear used to strangers pulling apologetic foreign faces before backtracking.

Kali strata pathway

These unmapped streets could easily be the death of any foreigner. There are no sign posts nor does there appear to be any real route. Every so often a structure or home may have numbers above their entrance, a sign of some form of system to the chaos. Apparently this system came with the Italian occupation of 1912. Most of these numbers have been scored out, replaced by different numbers, and then another set. The numbers no longer represent anything other than history.

Looking around, I recognised other buildings but had no idea how to get to them. Some appeared streets away, others fields away. I figured an incline was only ever going to take me up to where I wanted to be, considering all the paths are just one long interconnected pavement. Eventually I found the church with the view…

A Symi view

For me, being up there created quite a bizarre feeling. I’m alone in the grounds of an empty church, high up on the slope of a valley, on an island, in the middle of the Aegean sea. And it was incredibly peaceful. Something I fear none of us experience enough.

The acoustics of Symi, where the smallest voice can carry a conversation from the streets down in the harbour right up to where I was staying, were taking a while for my brain to get used to. But up there in the church grounds, there was nothing. Literally, the only thing I could hear was the wind whistling past my ears. It was wonderful.

I spent a while standing in the sunshine and the silence, listening for anything I could hear. Very occasionally there was rustling on the ground as more tiny lizards bolted through the dust and dryness. They made me laugh, the way they would scuttle and stop mid-step, as if remembering some life-threatening information, before bolting off again. Perhaps to turn off the oven they just realised was still on.

Thinking I was alone up there was actually absurd. This little oasis was teaming with life. Birds would streak across the sky in flocks. Butterflies lifted from one thorn, drifting over to another. And dragonflies hovered close by. Closer than I was comfortable with:

Symi Dragonfly

I was up there for a while. And having stood with the silence on my own, quite aware of all the sins and immorality that go on around the world, I considered the walk home again. Following a whitewashed path around the church I came across a small cave I hadn’t noticed before. Initially it looked like a bunch of stones were piled inside, perhaps some homeless persons attempt at a place to start a fire. Then I realised it was something else. Persons unknown had made a ship. Out of broken stone and tiles, using wood for a tall sail, the ships bow pointed east. The same direction the little fisher boy gestures in the harbour. I was suddenly aware this makeshift monument might have purpose. Of this, I am unsure.

Further round below me, a dusty walkway presented itself. Treading carefully on broken stone on an unsteady slope I wandered down through some trees, with the inkling that I thought I recognised this place. It didn’t take long for the realisation to sink in that my apartment was a stones throw away. These trees were where I caught the dancing lizards. All this time, the place I was trying to work out how to get to was a mere two minutes wander through the trees behind the flat!

As the sun set on the fifth night of this holiday, I used the knowledge of the dirt path to run back up to the church when the skies started to change colour. It took me five nights, but here’s at least one shot of a beautiful sunset sky over Symi:

Symi Sunset