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Selected focus photograph of white petal flowers.

News Time-Lapse Trends: flowers and plant life

15 January 2019 Kate

“Time-Lapse Trends” is a video blog series which draws attention to some of the many exciting trends in time-lapse production. We feature a new trend in each instalment, to demonstrate the scope of the medium and the various ways in which it is applied, ranging from the popular to the more obscure.

In this blog we look at a few examples of time-lapse videos which focus on plant life – a trend that dates back many decades.

The foundations of photography were invested in science and factual discovery; botanology (the study of plants) utilised the cyanotype, an early type of photographic technique, in order to record plant specimens in the mid 1800s.

Later down the line, time-lapse photography brought the lifecycle of plants to the masses via Sir David Attenborough’s TV documentary, The Private Life of Plants (1995).

Since these early applications, the medium has continued to inspire time-lapse videos that document plant life.

A whole new world

Time-lapse capture can open our eyes to things that we can take for granted.

How often is it that we think about the movement of plants? Granted, something that moves at a different pace than we do is difficult to comprehend.

How about a pumpkin plant? Those things you pick, carve out and display in your window on Halloween. There’s much work – on behalf of the plant and those who grow them – as Jon Fletcher’s time-lapse video shows (below).

Time-lapse speeds up the life of the pumpkin from its beginning as a small seed, right up to its harvest.


‘The Secret Life of Plants’ from tonn poorter is guided by similar creative purpose to that which was the basis for the BBC’s The Private Life of Plants: the video wishes to unearth the development of plants and flowers that we may not be aware of and to “depict the wonder of their intelligence […] playing their part in the scheme of evolution.”

Time-lapse is used in both titles to shed light on the different time scale by which plants and flowers live their lives and how they adapt to their environment using various strategies to thrive and survive.

Indeed, plant behaviour is a thing of wonder to watch when given the opportunity to do so.

This ‘dancing flowers – blooming time-lapse’ documents the blooming of various kinds of flowers set to a soundtrack of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker – Waltz of Flowers’. This famous score helps to heighten the drama of these flowers as their petals literally burst open through the lens of time-lapse.

It is hard not to be awestruck by the various movements – the twisting and the fluttering – which eventually reveal the intricacies of colour and texture behind each petal of a flower.

Of course, some plants are carnivorous; consuming insects and other microorganisms for nutrients. Their movements are still fascinating to watch, albeit a little ‘eery’ too – Nuno’s time-lapse video captures this tension really well.

Bigger transformations

Time-lapse is also valuable to help mediate natural change of a larger scale. Watching a full garden come into bloom is equally as transfixing as a more macro look at a certain kind of plant or flower.

Public gardens, like the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, explode into colour and shape in the spring. Time-lapse is the perfect way to showcase such a display, enticing people to visit the gardens.


Magnolias, tulips, daffodils, bluebells and blossom trees are given a new lease of life in the springtime conditions, making this time-lapse video a useful study of seasonal effects.

The changes between seasons is also a popular application of time-lapse, as we have covered in one of our previous instalments of this series.


There are many more ways to capture the extraordinary existence of plants and flowers – we have included but a few, here. With each particular type of flower, along with the many ways in which its life may be visualised, this particular time-lapse trend will never cease to be influential.

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