At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Timelapse videos

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.

How your Timelapse Videos will Reveal a Different Reality

Shooting timelapse videos will remind you about the very nature of existence. Here are a few of the ways they can expand your perspective.

Capturing that perfect moment with your camera can be a life-long ambition. Along your photographic journey, you might want to also consider the opposite exercise. Explore the opportunity to scoop up the ever-changing landscape in front of you… across time.

Use Your Camera as a Time Machine
Many cameras and smartphones today can act as a time machine and perform the trick of timelapse video capture. You’ve just got to give some thought to which environments you’d like to explore and how they might look when you squeeze twenty minutes down to twenty seconds.

Shooting timelapse videos is easy to do. You’ve simply got to keep your camera steady and allow it to slowly snap a frame of video every two or three seconds. Along the way, it stitches the frames together to generate a scene that moves at lighting speed when you play it back.

Beyond the exploration of timelapse video as an art form, this technology is also exciting, because it bottles up time and then reveals your world in ways you’ve never experienced before. It’s a whole new way to experience reality.

Here’s what I’ve learned from these timelapse videos I’ve recently shot.

So Many Rushing Clouds
I’m always impressed by the hidden intensity of ‘normal’ weather conditions in timelapse mode.
Clouds Timelapse at Calf Pasture Beach
Clouds do not lumber along. Here on a beach, I see that they are clearly on a mission to quickly reach some important destination.

Our Fleeting Existence
When you speed up time, people become momentary blips. While this video’s final form creates a dance of frenetic fun in a snow storm, it’s also a sobering reminder of our own brief presence in space and time.
Snowy Day Timelapse at Cranbury Park
So, always remember to enjoy the dance.

Your Own Sunrise
Capturing a quickly-moving sun at dawn is hardly an original concept. It’s a scene we’ve all be exposed to countless times on TV and at the movies. Still, there’s always a way to make a sunrise your own.
Sunrise Timelapse by Saugatuck River and Route 95
Where you choose to experience your sunrise is always the unique factor.

Adding Motion
You may have noticed the panning movement in my time-lapse video examples. This trick is courtesy of the ‘motionlapse’ mode in my DJI Osmo Pocket Gimbal camera. After every snapped frame, the gimbal auto-pans a wee bit as part of a preprogrammed move. And that creates the effect of a smooth pan across the shot.

Timelapse videos are fun to do and usually generate amazing results. Just don’t forget one important variable. These videos will take a while to shoot. So plan ahead.

Capturing time takes time.

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