PHOTOGRAPHER AARON KEIGHER EXPLAINS the motivation behind his film, Nostalgic in New York: A Timeless Time-lapse.
Even with all the changes throughout the years, New York remains a classic American city that will forever be timeless. It is frozen in an era long gone, in an time where big band jazz and swing ruled the night and when it became world renowned as the city that never sleeps. It’s a city that never stops moving and never stops changing, but it is a place that will never loose its essential character.
Neon lights and LCD screens may have replaced the older look of places like Times Square, but it’s history is still alive today and its style has never died. While new buildings with modern looks continue to be built, the classic architecture of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, the historic Brooklyn Bridge and so many other locations has helped New York maintain its timeless look and feel. It is a place that has become the epitome of the melting pot that is America and has earned the nickname The Empire City. No other city in the world has quite the same feel as New York and no city has been as able to retain its unique character through decades of change.
For me, the look and feel of New York is best captured in Woody Allen’s classic film “Manhattan” (A film that if you have never watched, I suggest you rent or download right away). The black-and-white feel that he uses, perfectly captures New York City in Allen’s 1979 masterpiece. It is the classic Metropolis of the old Superman films — Batman’s original Gotham.
In this time-lapse film, I worked to photograph the look and feel of a time long gone — blend the old style of New York with the more modern changes that have become interwoven with the city’s true essence. Join me as we go back in time to the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s to a grittier and glamorous New York that can only be captured in black-and-white.
I hope you enjoy this look back at the classic Big Apple and see why it is one of the world’s greatest cities.
Another spot that I decided to visit this past Friday was Washington Square Park in New York. I had my tilt-shift lens but quickly realized once I got there that no vantage point existed to leverage this lens. I decided to try out a hyperlapse around the fountain. I noticed that blocks on the ground were evenly spaced in a circle around the fountain which is perfect for a hyperlapse since it would be a constant circular motion. I was going to do 180 degrees of rotation with one photo for every block. I ended up shooting 88 photos (steps) in this sequence. In retrospect, perphaps two steps every block might have been better for a slightly longer sequence but this still turned out decent. I focused on the center block of the structure and kept that location constant in the frame during the whole sequence. I also made sure my path was free of any obstacles (such as a light post which I made sure my path was in front of). Typically, a obstacle in your path will distort the video either by your stepping or the editing. My camera was in Direct Sunlight white balance with ISO 320, f/13, and 1/200 second shutter speed. I was using my kit lens (18.0 – 55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6) at 18 mm. I was hoping to keep the entire fountain and arc in the frame the entire time while accounting for cropping for the 16:9 4K frame size.
Once the video is shot the next part is editing. Sometimes editing can be pretty easy with Adobe After Effects Warp Stabilizer but other times it can be tricky. Rotating around a fountain is usually tough because the water can trick warp stabilizer. To show you how I edit the videos here is the original sequence at 24 fps with no editing besides color corrections in Lightroom and LRTimelapse.
At first, I tried to apply Warp Stabilizer and the result is below. The result is 90% good there is some bounce in the arc and at the end there is some zoom distortion or jello-ing in the background.
So what I had to do was first manually stabilize the video with motion tracker for position first and then rotation second, each independently. I then used Warp Stabilizer after that to get the final result. I usually use YouTubre videos for some tips and this is a great one that describes some of the features and work required for difficult editing of hyperlapse video.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions!
Last evening I drove to Liberty State Park again in Jersey City to take a timelapse of the Manhattan Skyline. Yesterday evening was Earth Hour which is an hour each year where cities and buildings turn off lights to conserve energy. Check out the site: https://www.earthhour.org/
I was hoping the NYC skyline would have a dramatic difference at 830! Win for the environment and my timelapsing! I started shooting about 815 PM with a 5 second interval. I wasn’t necessarily planning on staying long, just enough for a 15-20 second video with a cool before and after.
My other settings were ISO 500 and a 2 second shutter speed with f/8.0 in Manual exposure. I was using my 18-55mm Kit Lens at 34 mm with my Nikon D7100.
The sky was very gloomy since it was raining lightly most of the day but at least the skyline was still visible.
Once 830 hit a few buildings turned off their lights and you can see in the video but the WTC and the other main buildings didn’t. The Empire State building did though which was out of this scene further midtown. Hopefully next year there will be more participation! I always enjoy shooting NYC though, I still think its beautiful even with a gloomy sky. Thanks for reading!
With so much happening in the United States at the moment, I thought now is a good a time as any to write my first post set in the US of A.
New York, New York. If there was ever a city to write about, New York City would be it. I’m not alone in thinking that because of all the songs, books, movies & articles written about this place. There is just something about this city. Is it electrifying? Is it enchanting? Is it unforgettable? Yes, yes & yes. There is a bizarre rush of emotions when you visit a place for the first time yet everything seems so familiar. Because of the media attention the city gets, it feels like you’ve been & seen it all before. This feeling of familiarity is quickly rivaled with the feeling of being a tourist because of the fast-paced, unique nature of the city. I was awestruck for the majority of the time I was there.
When people say NYC is a melting pot, they really mean it. Yes, you will find people from every part of the world here. You will also see all kinds of people – anything from a businessman in a suit to a person crossing the street in a patchy clown outfit. You can’t expect what you will see next & somehow, everything seems interesting yet unsurprising at the same time. While cities like London & Paris have this type of diversity as well, New York City appears to have elevated this to the next level.
If you’re reading this blog, you are most likely waiting for me to tell you a short story about how I did something awkward & embarrassed myself. Unfortunately for you, surprisingly nothing of the sort happened to me while I was in New York. Maybe I am finally growing up. I will, however, tell you something I found quite interesting. I went to have breakfast & explore Central Park. I quickly noticed that the benches in Central Park have small plaques on them. Some of these had congratulatory messages for weddings or anniversaries, a few had what appeared to be inside jokes, but most of them were honoring someone’s life. It is quite moving to spend a few minutes reading some of the messages. One in particular which has stuck with me was a message written by the partner of a missing person & it ended with “My efforts to bring you home will never end, my love.” Whilst this bustling city is a novelty for some, these types of things make it evident that it is home for others.
I wish I had a bigger vocabulary & more elegant way of describing one of the most inspiring places in the world, but I just don’t have the words. Having admitted that, I don’t think any writing or description would accurately explain what it feels like to experience New York City. It’s something that needs to felt in person.
Yesterday afternoon I went to Bear Mountain State Park in New York. The park overlooks the Hudson River and is just on the border of New York and New Jersey. Yesterday was an awesome day for hiking with perfect weather. The leaves are turning colors now for fall and I was doing some research for good locations around the area. Bear Mountain had an awesome overlook towards the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge. We got there and drove up Perkins Memorial Highway and then hiked down towards the overlooks. We saw plenty of beautiful trees and lots of dogs (there were plenty of hikers)!
My only complaint for the day as you can see is that there were no clouds in the sky. The hillside overlooking the bridge was amazing although not necessarily at peak fall colors yet. But still, the colors of the shot were really cool. The Hudson Rivers had plenty of boats going by so that is what I focused on for my motion since there were no clouds in the sky. I thought about using the Syrp Genie Mini but rotation would start to bring trees into the shot that were close by the openings for the picture. Since I was shooting boats, I decided to use a 3 second interval. My camera settings were also low noise and high focus since there was a lot of sunlight. I had f/22 and ISO 100 with a 1/15 sec shutter speed.
The result was pretty good. I only ended up shooting 120 shots since most of the boats had gone by already and none were coming upstream of the shot. I would have liked a longer video, perhaps a 2 second interval might have been better but I still give this a B considering the scenery and lack of clouds or any other external movement minus the boats.
Camera Settings: 3 second interval, f/22, ISO 100, 1/15 seconds, 28.0 mm f/2.8 Prime Lens
Time-lapse photographer Aaron Keigher recently created this amazing time lapse video featuring modern scenes at iconic New York City locations, all in black and white over a timeless bit of Jazz.
In this time-lapse film, I worked to photograph the look and feel of a time long gone — blend the old style of New York with the more modern changes that have become interwoven with the city's true essence. Join me as we go back in time to the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s to a grittier and glamorous New York that can only be captured in black-and-white.
Check out the video page to read more about the inspiration behind the film.
Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their dog. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.
Something wrong with this post? Let us know!