Pittsburgh, PA – First Night Hyperlapse

Two nights ago I tried my first night hyperlapse.  I’ve done plenty of hyperlapses before but they have all been during the day.  My hesitation for a night hyperlapse was the use of a tripod (especially when I travel).  Usually I shoot hyperlapses hand-held during the day where my shutter speeds can be quick enough that I don’t need a tripod.  This has some advantages obviously shooting in crowded areas and more flexibility.  However, the longer shutter speeds are more visually appealing and provide a more cinematic effect.

I tried my first night hyperlapse in Pittsburgh on the North Shore in front of PNC Park and the Allegheny River.  I was trying to get close to 200 shots while moving alongside the river every 2-3 feet.  The riverwalk had pavement with blocks so I was moving three times in every block as evenly as possible.

One other thing I needed for this shot was a hand-held remote shutter for my camera.  I did not want to press the shutter and potentially blur the image.  I was moving my tripod every 2-3 feet, making sure I was focused, and pressing my remote, and then moving forward.  Each photo focused on the same location using my focus grid.  I focused on the tall UPMC U.S Steel Building.  You can see in the video that the movement rotates around the tallest skyscraper.


I was moving about 14-20 seconds per shot with a 5 second shutter speed (f/9.0, ISO 400) for each photo.  Another detail to keep constant is the focal length if you have a zoom lens.  Just make sure you don’t touch the lens if it can move easily.

Another tip that quickly learned is to move your tripod legs together.  If you focus on moving one tripod leg then the other ones might move closer together.  You want to have the same height and angle for each shot to keep it as steady as possible.  In the end I was moving two legs together, fully extended outwards to make sure everything was closely aligned.

Overall, the video turned out really well.  The whole video took about 60 minutes to shoot (a day hyperlapse would be half the speed in 30 minutes) but the image is much more beautiful.

Thanks for reading!



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