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Tag: Timelapse videos

Why I Woke Up at 4:30am on Vacation to Shoot these 6 Sunrise Timelapses

If you’re on vacation and happen to have a front-row seat to the sunrise, you might want to consider working that into your schedule. Here are the results of my creative effort.

I’ve just returned from a restorative family vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine. We stayed at a magical house on the water with two other families. The house is in Cape Porpoise right on an ocean inlet that transforms into an otherworldly span of mudflats at low tide.

The birds woke me up on our first morning at 4:45am. I peered out our bedroom window onto the flats and took in a pre-sunrise sky ablaze in purple and pink-colored clouds. I saw one of the other dads already out there with camera in hand. There was no need for words. I gestured that I would join his sunrise photo shoot.

Half asleep, I grabbed my tripod and DJI Osmo Pocket camera to record a timelapse of the sunrise over the mudflats. I stumbled down the stairs and onto the edge of the flats to join my friend.

Sunday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Sunday sunrise timelapse

The Set Up
The sun was due in 10 minutes, and I was running out of time. I hurriedly set up my timelapse to run for 20 minutes, snapping a frame at 2-second increments. This gimbal also let me add a little motion in the shot, which is really nice. And then I let nature take over. I watched the sunrise and simultaneously created this 20-second sunrise timelapse video.

The result wasn’t terrible, but the length felt short to me. And there weren’t many clouds in my shot. Plus, my settings didn’t allow enough time for the clouds to really move through my frame. (Clearly, it’s all about the clouds.)

Monday Cape Porpoise, Maine Sunrise Timelapse

Monday sunrise timelapse

I immediately wanted to try again. So the next morning, I did exactly that. I adjusted the timelapse settings to record for an hour at 3-second frame increments. That would capture more of the sunrise and also help the clouds to move faster. Here’s the 40-second result.

The scattered cloud cover instantly made this sunrise more interesting, and the longer timelapse felt like the perfect length.

In Search of More
I sat down on the lawn with my coffee and felt both relaxed and incredibly satisfied. I had fed my creative self, and it wasn’t even 6am yet.

So I decided to repeat the exercise for the rest of the week. 4:30am… every morning.

Waking up earlier that I normally do ran completely counter to my vacation goals of sleeping in. But I adjusted with adding afternoon vacation naps to my schedule.

All sunrises are unique. Even though the sun is a constant, the different cloud formations create limitless timelapse opportunities.

That said, I think some of my videos were more interesting than others based on cloud position and movement. But that’s just one opinion. Here are the rest of my vacation timelapses. (I’ve sped up these Gifs a bit to capture the full 40-seconds of each video.)

Tuesday Cape Porpoise Maine Sunrise Timelapse

Tuesday sunrise timelapse

Wednesday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Wednesday sunrise timelapse

Thursday Cape Porpoise Timelapse

Thursday sunrise timelapse

Friday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Friday sunrise timelapse

Not to play favorites (every sunrise is perfect), but I think Wednesday was the winner.
(Any other thoughts?)

The Value of Greeting the Day
On the last morning of our vacation, a storm was predicted, but I woke up early anyway and walked outside to greet the day and feel the breezes. Yes, it started to rain, but it was light.

There was no sunrise. But of course the dawn did arrive. I sat down on an Adirondack chair with my cup of joe to just… be.

I took in the dark clouds overhead. I didn’t have a camera in my hand, but I still relished in the conclusion of my week-long morning exercise.

And then I understood that it’s not always about being able to capture a sunrise. Sometimes, just being there is more than enough.

My vacation was complete.

Take your Camera on your Next Drive and Turn Off your GPS App

Spending an extra hour on a road less traveled will often reveal new imagery for you to capture with your camera.

My GPS navigation apps have been pointing the way while I drive for years. Whether I’m using Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps or my ancient Garmin, technology has been mapping my ‘fastest’ routes to my destinations. Of course, I sometimes wonder if the AI algorithms are actually sending me the longer way. That’s why I often run two apps simultaneously to see if I can generate directional consensus.

Yes, it feels imperfect, but it usually gets the job done for this city boy, who grew up in the easy-to-navigate box grid of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. (Complicated navigation challenges on the road have always been solved by my wife.)

The Value of Adding an Extra Hour to your Trip
I usually prioritize the shortest travel time when I’m in the car, but if you turn off your navigation app and take a little more time on the road less traveled, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you come across. I know this is not a revolutionary idea, but I’ve found that applying it for an hour or so on drives you’ve previously taken can expose you to new scenery, while not dramatically sacrificing your planned arrival time.

No, you’re not going off the grid for the day. You’re just taking the other route your GPS has shunned, possibly due to just a few extra driving minutes.

Taking my Time Driving through Connecticut
I recently applied this visual exploration strategy on a drive back from northwestern Connecticut with the hopes of finding some quintessential New England fall scenery to photograph.

I was not disappointed.

Kent Falls
Connecticut Fall Vista Timelapse
Bulls Bridge

Something New is Just Around the Corner
If you’re in search of new imagery to capture but don’t have a whole day to explore, turning off your GPS app for an hour or so while driving and sticking to local roads can offer the perfect solution.

One Way to Handle the Isolation

It’s time to take a breath and focus on staying centered while we travel through these uncharted waters of the coronavirus pandemic. A good step is simply to look up. Here’s why…

This existence is hard to imagine. You’re supposed to stay at home. Everything is shut down. Don’t touch anything. If you’re outside, don’t get near anyone. And never touch your face. This all sounds like a premise for a sci-fi flick.

It’s barely more than a week since COVID-19 has radically changed life in the greater New York City area. Even a trip to the grocery store feels like you’re taking a risk.

And I know that we’re just getting started.

Maintain Virtual Connections
Our sudden new norm is extreme physical isolation. And except for the truly dedicated introverts amongst us, that’s hardly a normal state.

The good news is there are still lots of ways to stay connected… virtually. Even if you can’t reach out and touch someone, you can still pick up the phone. (That old AT&T marketing campaign now feels so prescient.) And for those today who despise old-school phone use, video chats are great. Suddenly, I’ve seen Zoom become a common household tool for group video calls with family and friends.

It’s bad out there, but technology has certainly cushioned the blow from necessary social distancing. I can’t fathom what true isolation really felt like back in 1918 without smartphones and web connectivity.

Find the Beauty That’s Still There
As I write this, it’s still okay to go outside for a walk, as long as you avoid others. If you’re close enough to nature, that’s always a great destination to visit. Beyond the obvious physical and emotional benefits of hiking in a park or walking on a beach, these locations can offer other opportunities.

I’ve brought along my tiny DJI Osmo Pocket camera to shoot time-lapse videos of some of the beautiful environments I’ve passed through recently during my walks. I’ve found it to be an especially calming practice.

Take a look at these nature shots with three sunrises…

Stay Centered
Nature doesn’t skip a beat. Time flows. And if you look closely, people are still around. Many patterns continue as before.

Our daily routines have been shattered. No doubt. But I find it nourishing to observe some of the larger norms of existence still firmly in place.

So, If you can, it’s time to go out and take a walk.

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