Time-lapse photography is an effective way of documenting the transition and change throughout the seasons. Each season brings noticeable changes to the landscape, and this can be emphasised quickly using time-lapse. Time-lapse captures the seasons, accelerating change so that natural occurrences happen in a visually much shorter timeframe.
Using a series of still images in rapid sequence means that within a few minutes, time-lapse can quickly show seasonal changes spanning a whole year. Time-lapse speeds up the growth and flourishing of foliage and plants throughout spring and summer and then the decline into autumn and winter through faded landscapes and dropped leaves. The technique can be used simply as linear time-lapse or with special effects added in post-production to highlight changes or certain wonders of the natural world.
Capturing changing landscapes
Changing seasons can be captured through its visual effect on the countryside. Harun Mehmedinovic captured the changing seasons at New River Gorge, America. For several months, he documented how the seasons changed in the valley and the gorge that surrounds one of the oldest rivers in the world. Using numerous camera angles he focussed on different aspects of the environment to capture the changing seasons. He photographed sweeping overviews of the forests, turning from vivid greens to burnt orange; the changing foliage backdrop to an ancient mill and closer footage of a stream running down into the main river.
The dramatic footage of flowers blooming in Death Valley is also captured by Harun Mehmedinovic in Amargosa Superbloom. This is not regular seasonal growth, but a rare occurrence as for the super-blooms to flower in Death Valley there must be a perfect combination of rain, sunshine, and wind. Through time-lapse it dramatically shows how an arid desert can spring forth with the life and colour of a blanket of blooms. Time-lapse photography captures slight incremental changes in plant growth and speeds it up to create a magical spectacle. Both of these time-lapse videos by Mehmedinovic also show the importance of the sky in tracing the seasons – he strikingly captures darting clouds, the creeping light at dawn and the night sky full of stars. His work is part of the larger Skyglow Project that is dedicated to protecting the night-time skies.
Capturing the sky
The sky is a huge indicator of the change in seasons and with time-lapse it becomes more dramatic and defined. In spring and autumn swirling mists dance across the ground, whilst in summer white wispy clouds scud across the blue sky above green landscapes. In winter, the skies are menacing whilst below mountains are blanketed in crisp white snow. The sky and the weather are important visual markers for the seasons. Through time-lapse, the ever-changing skies can be accelerated faster than reality to create powerful imagery.
In “Seasons of Norway” Morten Rustad has used time-lapse to dramatic effect. Capturing the radically changing seasons in this stunning landscape he relies on the impact of the ever-moving sky to create a captivating video.
Capturing from the sky
It is always interesting to see time-lapse used from different angles. Fixed camera angles work well to show changes in a precise location throughout the seasons. However changing angles, dynamic camera movements and drone footage can be used to great effect.
Capturing the changing seasons from the sky, using solely drone time-lapse footage Will Strathmann charts the natural changes around a Pennsylvania farm through the changing seasons. The images swop across the landscape, and he has used software to meld the time-lapse images effectively so green foliage turns russet whilst the video unfolds.
Why use time-lapse?
Time-lapse manipulates the passage of time so that natural wonders that normally evolve slowly are sped up and emphasised to dramatic effect. Time-lapse captures the seasons by piecing together all their different elements to effectively show an entire year in a short video.