The wonders of the urban – time-lapsing the city

“Street photography is about the possibility – though never the promise – of capturing a flicker in time that might make a good photograph.” – Karen Gardiner, National Geographic

The urban has long been a source of fascination and inspiration for photographers. National Geographic’s ’25 Captivating Pictures of Street Scenes Around the World’, for example, evidences the remarkable moments captured on camera where “the visual and emotional elements of a scene come together”.

This breathtaking collection of photographs takes you on a journey through various urban landscapes. Whether in London (England), Chefchaoene (Morocco), or Tokyo (Japan), there is much wonder to behold in city streets.

Time-lapse in the city

As a professional time-lapse company, we feel at home in the city.

Although our work takes us anywhere (including to more rural, remote areas with limited accessibility), a large proportion of our video & photography solutions (especially time-lapse photography) are commissioned by clients whose work is based in urban environments.

Big cities like London – a source of economic power and considerable wealth – are important hubs for the construction industry. Prestigious areas, such as Leicester Square, Strand, Oxford Street and Battersea (just some of the capital locations where our work has taken us), house some of London’s major developments.

These sites are forever changing and regenerating – so time-lapse is an important visual tool through which to preserve a particular view of a city as it will never be seen again.

As we have documented before, there are many other benefits of utilising time-lapse for city-based projects – as it is adaptable to any situation. Regardless of size, scale, or duration, time-lapse is able to communicate faithfully the whole picture.

The wonders of the urban

Civil engineering projects – building roads, tunnels, and other public structures – are essentially works that shape urban areas.

Transport systems, schools, and residential areas are among important elements which make up a community. Documenting the creation of those very structures is to capture the establishment and development of a community – something that is historically significant.

Being able to ‘show’ as well as ‘tell’ in relation to these sorts of projects is also very important. Time-lapse sequences make for impressive viewing that really showcases the work done to the best degree.

Take 190 Strand – a luxurious residential development built to rejuvenate the Temple area of Strand, London.

 

This particular two-camera system edit (above) documents the deconstruction of a vacant 1960s office block. This time-lapse edit preserves the memory of this historic building before the construction of 190 Strand would bring a brand new residence to the cityscape and the surrounding area.

The still image

Time-lapse is not only useful for the completed result but to witness change in all stages. The individual images are the substance of time-lapse capture and can isolate ‘the wonders of the urban’.

Although there is an element of predictability to this work in terms of how images are processed at regular intervals, combinations of certain timings and lighting can guarantee stunning compositions.

Here are some examples from projects we have captured across various parts of England:

 

Peaceful scene over Salford Quays.
Above: peaceful scenes overlooking The Alchemist at MediaCityUK.

 

Above: a rainbow over a time-lapse construction project in the city of Leeds.

 

Our New Bailey project silhouetted against the morning sun.
Above: New Bailey project silhouetted against the morning sun, Manchester.

 

Purple morning sky over Tower Hamlets, London.
Above: a deep purple sky over Tower Hamlets, London.

As these examples elucidate, particular periods of atmospheric light can really add that little something extra to an already inviting vista in the city.

Images like this may encourage you to view cityscapes in new ways and perhaps even appreciate certain scenes for a level of beauty that you had not before comprehended.

Like the captivating street photography that we introduced at the start of this blog, then, time-lapse photography provides the same level of perception in relation to urban spaces.

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