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Cranes working on a construction project in central London

News Classic subjects of time-lapse photography

21 April 2017 Daniel Curtis

Throughout its history, time-lapse has been known to be applied to capture all manner of subjects.

There are, however, some subjects that are particularly popular in their use.


Movements on land are well suited to time-lapse photography, for the effect of capturing a subject that moves imperceptibly slow can create a smooth impression of motion when put together in a sequence.

For this reason, time-lapse is effective when capturing celestial motion. Movement of the sky over a picturesque landscape are increasingly becoming a prominent trend for both professional and amateur time-lapse photographers.

Two examples of this include “The Island” by Christoph Malin and “New Zealand Timelapse Volume 3” by Bevan Percival.

The growth of plants and flowers

Arthur C. Pillsbury is credited with the first use of time-lapse to record the movement of flowers between 1911 and 1912. Building a special camera, he recorded the movements of the 1,500 varieties of flowers in Yosemite, Northern California, through their life cycles.

Incredibly high definition time-lapse is frequently used in this form on televised nature documentaries. Because of this technique, details that are usually invisible to the human eye play out in mind-blowing detail.

Orchids in motion – a rather flowery time lapse from Mark Rigler on Vimeo.


Another popular element to capture using time lapse is that which occurs at the end of an organism’s life cycle: decomposition.

Although decay can be an uncomfortable and unsettling process to witness, particularly if the subject is that of an animal, watching through time-lapse can offer scientific insight into the time scales of such things, as well as interesting visual compositions.

Decaying Strawberries – a time lapse short from timothysTV on Vimeo.

Evolution of a construction project

Construction sites are usually very crowded, busy environments and so it usually impractical to gather an accurate visual record of developments from the ground, plus the angle is not desirable from which to capture a comprehensive perspective.

Time-lapse has shaped how such developments are mediated, with video marketing campaigns for contractors given fresh momentum by inviting new and dynamic perspectives of their building methods.

Here are a couple of our own time-lapse videos documenting long-term, high profile construction projects:


City life

Often full of life, there is ample opportunity for time-lapse photographers in the heart of the city. As with trends in landscape time-lapses, such visual representations of a city often leave your mouth watering for adventure.

Perhaps providing aerial views over the tops of buildings, or tracking the motion of streetlamps and car headlights, seeing such imagery through the lens of time-lapse can reveal a different side to some of the world’s most iconic cities.

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.