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Spring Flames

Finally! It's been a while since my last timelapse - I've been busy running around and such. I guess this is my most ambitious timelapse to date, so I have a lot to say about it!!


First, it's my first 'constructed' timelapse, as opposed to 'observed'; I actually went and bought candles, and made a set - all my other timelapses have been just observing the natural world - so unsurprisingly this one took way longer to make due to all the decisions I had to personally make.


Second, I'm actually collaborating informally with the band American Dollar Band, which contacted me after seeing several of my other timelapses in which I used their music. I made this timelapse with a specific piece of music in mind, so that affected the subject of the timelapse and the timing of events within. Their piece "The Slow Wait" has such a nice build up from a quiet melody all the way to an energetic chorus of different instruments, so I wanted the footage to convey that as well (although it's far from being long enough for the 9+ minute music). Thematically, my personal 'slow wait' has been waiting for the long Dutch winter to end, and spring to come (it finally arrived last week), so I wanted to celebrate the coming of Spring by growing a 'forest', in this case, one of candles. (I know timelapsing candles isn't 'new', but hey, it's my own take on it)


And finally, this timelapse has also been a technical testing ground for me. The raw footage had alot of flickering elements, such as the candle flames whipping around due to the very drafty room it was shot in - which in turn greatly affected the lighting & color frame to frame as well. So the timelapse looked very choppy / staccato. So I learned the programming language Processing and wrote a script to smooth things out. The script basically grabs all the frames in a folder, takes each frame and their neighboring 20 frames, reads the pixel data and creates one frame that is the average of the group. So essentially, each frame becomes an averaged composite of the nearest 20 images in the sequence. This minimizes the effect of erratic elements, exposure/color flickering and enables the candle forest to grow much more smoothly. (maybe I'll post a comparison of original vs. smoothed later on)


Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikon 85mm f/1.8D

Technique: Aperature Priority: f/1.8 and f/2.8; shooting interval: 1 exposure / 15 sec; Total images: 1648.

Music Excerpt from: The American Dollar - The Slow Wait part I


*Flickr Explore Highest Position: #15

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Uploaded on April 18, 2009