Time is relative, especially when it comes to the haunting genre of time-lapse photography. Hours become seconds. Days and years become minutes.
Time-lapse videos are created by taking a series of photos over the course of time and then stitching them together into footage that moves much more quickly than it was originally photographed. These videos can highlight dramatic changes in lighting, the shifting of landscapes over time, or a flower opening its petals in mere moments.
Here is a collection of outstanding time-lapse videos that will take you around the world and transport you across time in spectacular fashion:
1. Travel through Europe
Photographer Stan Chang brings his “A” game in an epic video shot with a pair of Nikon cameras throughout the cities and countrysides of Europe. The video spans 30 countries and uses over 200,000 individual images. A soaring soundtrack brings it all home as you travel with Chang across Iceland, the U.K., Greece, Croatia, and a long list of other lovely locales.
The sunsets over ancient cities, waterfalls roll, starry skies rotate over frozen water, and the Northern Lights send out ethereal plumes of green. This is the sort of footage you will want to watch in full-screen mode on the biggest display you can find. “I think that everybody needs to take a trip and have their eyes opened to just how beautiful the world is,” Chang writes.
2. Orbiting over hurricanes
The astronauts on board the International Space Station have a unique view of the weather patterns we all live under down on Earth. In 2016, a true weather rarity occurred when three separate hurricanes popped up across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The space station, which orbits the planet about 16 times per day, saw all of them from above. NASA released a fascinating time-lapse video of the event.
The three hurricanes on display are Lester and Madeline in the Pacific Ocean and Gaston in the Atlantic Ocean. You can see part of the space station in the footage, which gives you an astronaut’s eye look at the frightening storms. There’s no music. The sight of the swirling clouds below is all the drama you need. It’s a completely different way of looking at intense weather.
3. Lovely landscapes
Time-lapses and landscapes can mesh together in a truly magical fashion. The clock speeds up as clouds stream across the sky and reflect in pools of water in “Landscapes: Volume Two” from photographer Dustin Farrell. Farrell covers a lot of ground in both Arizona and Utah, highlighting the region’s artful rock formations and tough desert plants. Naturally, one of Arizona’s famous saguaro cactuses makes a cameo appearance.
At one point in the video, Farrell’s camera peers out through a curved rock arch at a lightning storm flashing on the night sky horizon. It’s an otherworldly view that communicates both the beauty and strength of nature. The sky is the star of the video, whether it’s a dark view dotted with streaking points of light or a sunset burning with intense reds and yellows.
4. Mirror universe
Photographer Michael Shainblum wanted to explore time-lapse photography as a form of abstract art. His “Mirror City Timelapse” uses images of Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, but adds kaleidoscope-style visuals into the mix. This isn’t your standard time-lapse. “I wanted to put man-made geometric shapes, mixed with elements of color and movement to create less of a structured video, and more of a plethora of visual stimulation,” Shainblum notes.
“Mirror City” starts off with recognizable locations, but the mirrored viewpoints give it a look reminiscent of some of the strange cityscapes in the mind-bending 2010 hit movie “Inception.” It just gets wilder from there as the kaleidoscope effect kicks into overdrive. It’s a fascinating and unusual use of time-lapse that you can’t look away from.
5. Visit the Lion City
Singapore is also known by the nickname “Lion City.” Photographer Keith Loutit’s “The Lion City II - Majulah” is a beauty of a time-lapse video showing a lot of different facets of the island nation. Some of the most intriguing sections follow the construction of various buildings. Rebar rises from the ground, cranes rotate, and workers crawl like ants across the scene.
It took years to make this video happen. “When we pass by landscapes they appear fixed in time, but they change around us constantly. The idea behind this film is to reveal this change by returning to the same camera positions over the years,” writes Loutit.
A modern soundtrack propels us through urban landscapes as the sun rises and sets in a ball of fire. Singapore’s busy docks and shipping lines get their moment in the spotlight. The video gives us a sense of an industrious world as Singapore pulses with new construction and busy, light-streaked streets.