Louisville Timelapses 2013

Louisville Timelapses 2013

Hyperlapse While Zooming

Hyperlapse While Zooming

The weather started to warm and trees began to bloom so it was time to finish shooting the video.  I first started shooting the remainder of the video on April 7, 2013.  I had been watching other people’s timelapse videos over the winter to help come up with new ideas of what to shoot and while watching one of the videos I notice someone had incorporated a zoom while doing a hyperlapse.  Thinking it was really cool I wanted to include this technique as well.  While riding my bike on East Washington Street I notice most of the trees overhead were in bloom and the road wasn’t very busy so on a Sunday I set out to shoot.  I started pretty close to the intersection and worked my way backwards while trying to keep the house at the end the same size in the frame by zooming.  In the full length version of the shot you could really see the trees in bloom with their white flowers, but the tripods placement was moving too far left or right to really have a smooth looking scene so I ended up just using a small portion of the total clip, but I still think it’s pretty awesome.

Louisville Water Tower

Louisville Water Tower

Realizing from the end of 2012 I needed more Louisville landmarks I wanted to show off the Louisville Water Tower.  I don’t remember why I choose to shoot this during a storm but I’m glad I did.    On June 17, 2013 a storm had started towards the end of work and knowing storms make for awesome clouds I was pretty excited to go out and shoot.  I guess I had been thinking about the water tower that week so that’s the location I decided on.  While driving out there, the weather was not ideal for shooting since it was raining, but having nothing else to do that day I continued driving and pulled into the complex and waited for a break in the weather.  Eventually around 6:15pm the weather cooperated and the rain let up but I could still hear thunder and see clouds lighting up from the lightning.  I felt uneasy about doing a hyperlapse in this weather but felt that it would be alright since there was a large group of people playing soccer in the nearby field and they must know there isn’t any danger.  This was shot with my widest lens and the camera moved about two feet between each shot.  I choose to use my widest lens, the Panasonic 7-14mm(this would be a 14-28mm on a “full frame” sensor), to capture this.  I really wanted to give the sense of moving in on the water tower and show of the clouds as much as possible.  I shot this another time afterwards since I didn’t know if the shot would be any good; then I was about to shoot it a third time with the motorized slider but by that point the lightning started to pick up and get closer.  I decided the third shot was not worth getting electrocuted for.

Crescent Hill Reservoir

Crescent Hill Reservoir

Another shot involving lightning was the Crescent Hill Reservoir near Frankfort Avenue.  I had originally captured this back on July 15, 2012 but when I processed the image I realized it was out of focus so it would have to be re-shot.  An unfortunate thing about having lenses that are focus by wire is that they apparently focus to infinity if the camera turns off.  I wanted to shoot earlier but waited for probably a couple weeks to get the gate house due to a lack of clouds in the sky, and finally on August 31, 2013 the clouds were finally good….maybe a little too good.  I was going for at least a five second timelapse but was cut short when the lightning that was over a mile away judging from how long the thunder took to reach me, suddenly was within 300 feet of me.  Feeling afraid for my life I compacted the tripod and walked as fast as I could to my car.  I could have run but felt that if lightning did hit me and I fell to the ground I probably would have been pretty scraped up from sliding to a stop if I managed to regain consciousness…at least if I was just walking fast I would probably just go limp and fall down.

University of Louisville

University of Louisville

The most frustrating shot of the entire video was trying to capture something from the University of Louisville.  I initially shot the bell tower but upon looking at the outcome didn’t really think it said UofL.  So I went back and settled on the location above.  Re-shooting isn’t too frustrating if you know it’s going to be a significantly better shot.  What is frustrating is when weather doesn’t cooperate.  To get from my house to the UofL location was 7.5 miles, so even if the clouds looked good where I lived there may have been no clouds around UofL.  On July 20, 2013 after four attempts everything finally worked out, there was just one problem…the clouds.  Don’t get me wrong, the clouds looked fantastic, but they would block the sun, casting big shadows on the lawn and if it can be avoided I would rather have a consistently bright or shadowy scene.  The final shoot probably took five or six tries on that particular day to have a window that let the sun shine down on the campus consistently.

Bardstown Road

Bardstown Road

The most electric looking scene from the project is probably the hyperlapse of Bardstown road.  This was another clip that involved a re-shoot.  The first two attempts were alright but when I processed them didn’t really give me the feeling of traveling through the area.  I drove up and down the road a few times and finally found an area that seemed to have a lot going on and was really lit up with signs and crosswalks.  Once I parked, I walked in the general area trying to figure out how best to show off this unique part of Louisville.  Eventually I figured I’ll just make this look like how it does when you walk down it in real life.  I used a sign in a window as my mark to keep the camera centered up and it turned out great.

Hyperlapse from Second Street Bridge

Hyperlapse from Second Street Bridge

One of the things I was most disappointed with from my 2012 shots was the lack of a good intro that said “This is Louisville”.  I thought about this problem a lot.  One day while trying to get a cool view of the second street bridge I noticed the pedestrian walkway on the bridge and the view from it wasn’t obstructed by the bridge supports, what luck!  I set out to do a hyperlapse from the bridge just before the sky turned completely black.  As I started I had no idea how long this bridge was.  I drove across it and parked in Indiana and figured I would need to have larger moves between each shot than normal so I used some supports in the bridge as my interval that I guess may have been 15 feet apart.  By the end of the hyperlapse I was mentally exhausted.  Doing something very repetitive that requires a good deal of concentration for almost three hours is tough especially after putting in a full day at work.  One of the challenges on this scene were vibrations.  Bridges seem like they would be very solid but if any large vehicles drove over it the roadway and sidewalk would shake, and when shooting at a slower shutter speed I would have to time the shots to miss the vibrations from vehicles.  If this shot took place during the daytime or if there were visible clouds at night it would have been ruined from inconsistencies in timing between each shutter actuation.  As of September 29, 2013 that is the longest hyperlapse I’ve done at right around 0.7 miles in length.

Last Scene of Video

Last Scene of Video

Luck and persistence have a lot to do with a good timelapse and thankfully luck was on my side for the ending shot.  A lot of times I’ll see good clouds while working and think “oh I’ll be able to get some good stuff after work” but when 5:00pm comes around the clouds will have disappeared.  On June 18 2013 everything just worked and I hit the cloud jackpot.  I needed to get some more of the downtown buildings towards the west end of the city so I drove out and first got a shot of the Judicial Center which can be seen below.  Somehow the clouds stopped at the edge of downtown and weren’t blocking the sun.  I couldn’t believe my luck that I actually had a fully lit building with clouds in the background.  This never happens; I couldn’t waste any opportunities this day.  I shot Metro Council in the same general area next.  The clouds weren’t nearly as good looking north but it was still usable.  On the third location of the day I finally ended up with the last shot of the video.  I rode an elevator up to the top floor of a parking garage and started a hyperlapse of downtown.  I started as far over as possible but knew I wouldn’t be able to move as far as I wanted since some of the parking spots still had cars in them.  Thankfully as I was about to reach a car a lady showed up and drove it away giving me a little more room.  I would have loved to have shoot more up there but ended up reaching another car.  I’m still very happy with what I got though.  I ended up getting one more shot from the same parking garage before the winds picked up and started storming.

Perfect Clouds

Perfect Clouds at a Judicial Center

This project has been a long journey, I started out having never really shot a timelapse with still photos before, and through the project started this website and explored more of Louisville than I ever thought I would.  I still have to use a GPS unit to go to specific locations but I’ve really enjoyed seeing all the different architecture the city has to offer.  I’ve only touched on a small portion of the city and there is still a lot for me and others to explore.  It’s an easy city to get around in both by bike and car, so if you are looking for someplace to visit keep Louisville in mind and check out some of the locations from the video.


Eric Stemen.


  1. Brenda Rick Smith says:

    Don’t forget about the Southwest side! How ’bout Dixie Highway or Jefferson Memorial Forest?

    You have created something beautiful, and reminded me of how much I love Louisville. Thank you for sharing. People like you make the world better. Can’t wait to watch your other work.

  2. What an awesome video capture of history and beauty of the city frequented in my past. Wonderful memories resurfaced and desire to revisit. Home was Southern Indiana but the place to go was Louisville. Thanks for sharing your talent in embedding more memories.

  3. Barbara Crowley says:

    My Hubby and I visited Louisville last year at Xmas in order to spend the holiday with our daughter and her husband. She posted your video for us to see on FB. I love this video, as it reminds me of our visit! Very well done. I’d love to see you do a collection of photos of Old Louisville. We spent a lot of time walking there and were fascinated by the way the same basic size and shape house was repeated over and over and yet each house managed an individuality, through different types of siding, different window size or arrangement, etc.
    If I had the talent and equipment, I think a wonderful film could be made from it!

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