Pittsburgh, PA – Sunrise Timelapses

For the first time since I started shooting timelapses I had the chance to create some videos of my hometown, Pittsburgh, PA.  The city has in my opinion the most photogenic skyline I have ever seen with the hills, rivers, and bridges.  In fact, Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice Italy!  There are three rivers (Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela) that form a triangle where the city is located.  The rivers and bridges provide plenty of opportunities for views of the city at different times of the year.  The first spot I wanted to shoot from was the West End Bridge which sits on the Ohio River east of the city.  The bridge has a pretty accessible walkway with a railing low enough for a tripod and unaltered view. The buildings were all really well lit even with a Christmas Tree at the top of the point!


I went in the morning for a 740 AM sunrise and started shooting at about 700 AM.  The clouds were again perfect and a bit thin.  I started my exposure in Manual f/8, ISO 400, at 8 seconds using my 18.0 – 55.0 mm (f/3.5-5.6) lens at 55 mm.  I set my interval to 10 seconds and ended up getting about 240 shots.  I started my sequence in dark and ended with a shutter speed of 1/10 seconds.

The sky turned the color of fire during the shot, amazing since I never saw the sun, but the clouds were thin enough to show color! The water reflected the colors and skyline perfectly.  A+ for my first shoot in Pittsburgh!



On Christmas morning I went out again to see a sunrise, this time on the North Shore of Pittsburgh which is on the Allegheny River.  The North Shore has a great walkway along the river with plenty of access for epic/iconic shots of Pittsburgh.  I was hoping to get a better view of the Christmas Tree but this was pretty far down the river towards the point so I ended up using my Syrp GenieMini to rotate during the shot.  I rotated 8 degrees over a 15 seconds sequence.  I usually try and rotate <1 degree/second of video since I have found that any faster pans too quick to enjoy the scene in a video.


The clouds were definitely a bit too thick for any color and it was misting a bit when I first started.  Nonetheless, the scene is still beautiful, especially with the calm water and reflections of the buildings.  I started with a 8 second shutter speed at f/9.0, ISO 400 and ended with 0.8 second shutter speed at the same aperture and ISO.  I started shooting a little earlier this time, at about 635 AM and ended close to sunrise at 740 AM.  My interval was set at 12 seconds.  I needed a longer interval since the Syrp GenieMini needs time to rotate in-between shots and if your delay is too short the images will be blurry.  At worst, you need a 1 second delay for the Syrp GenieMini + a 1 second delay for memory card writing = 2 seconds.  I usually try and have a 3-4 second delay just for some buffer.  The other complication is that I shot this in manual and changed the exposure.,  You need to be really careful to make sure the camera stays still since the movement on the Syrp GenieMini is really small and sensitive.  Good news, if there is a slight hiccup or bump then Adobe AfterEffects WarpStabilizer removes this easily, however, it helps to have as little movement as possible.  SO carefully plan and on-camera adjustments if you need to touch the body of the camera to adjust (such as a shutter speed dial).


Thanks again for reading! Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback.  Stay tuned for some more content in Pittsburgh this week plus a Top 16 of 2016 recap!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!


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