Time-Lapse Favs
November 24, 2009 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Chad Richard creates ground-breaking time-lapse photography with HDR techniques. For example, his recent compilation video Time-Lapse Favs. His weblog, Time Traveler, includes tutorials and samples.

Richard has been an industry leader evolving software and web service platforms in photography, video, music and gaming for more than 15 years. As CEO of soundz.com Chad led a team that built the first music-based search engine for the web, as well as early webcasting of live concerts. He served as Executive Producer for the launch of the consumer entertainment portal Shockwave.com and he was the co-founder and CEO of Simple Star, deploying the award-winning PhotoShow platform to industry leaders. Richard joined Apple in 2008.
posted by netbros (31 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
HDR is an acquired taste, much like whole raw chipmunks.
posted by killdevil at 8:08 AM on November 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Gloriously gorgeous!
posted by birdhaus at 8:11 AM on November 24, 2009

I would advise everyone to watch the video before we get a slew of anti-HDR comments.

I hate poorly done HDR as much as the next guy; it looks terrible and ruins what otherwise could have been a good photo.

However, this is an excellent example of HDR done properly. The effect is subtle, and it adds to the photos/time-lapse videos without attempting to be the focus. It's well done.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:24 AM on November 24, 2009

Over saturated and unnatural looking nature scenes are hardly what i'd describe as a subtle use of HDR.
posted by chunking express at 8:36 AM on November 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

For it to be truly ground-breaking, he would have to add in some tilt-shift as well.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 8:42 AM on November 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

Beautiful video! I love the changing light on the clouds at dawn/sunset.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:52 AM on November 24, 2009

These are nice, thanks. I like that he uses HDR subtly to bring out extra contrast in some scenes, like around 4:43 when the lights are coming up. (It's overdone just a bit earlier at 4:38, at least to my tastes). I also like the sepia shots of the bay bridge around 1:20, which I'm guessing are a normal exposure.

Since the lightning rod "HDR" term will now frame the rest of this MeFi discussion let me get my rant out of the way. HDR is not a genre, it is a technique. It lets you expand the dynamic range captured with a camera from the usual 6-10 stops (roughly 200:1) to a wider range by combining multiple exposures. It's like having really great film, or a super-sensitive sensor.

Where HDR gets messy is you need to reduce the high contrast HDR image down to the relatively low contrast of the display medium, say a computer screen. When that's done poorly you end up with freaky overcontrasty images, way oversaturated colours, and halos around high contrast portions of the image. This look was briefly trendy, and like ganguro makeup can be interesting in small doses. Mostly it's garish and boring.

HDR is not evil. It is a tool, useful for imaging a scene with very high contrast.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

There is nothing subtle about his use of HRD. It's still oversaturated and comic book-esque.
posted by JeffK at 9:02 AM on November 24, 2009

HDR, even. crap.
posted by JeffK at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2009

I liked the Golden Gate Bridge, but I felt like it shouldn't glow all the time. Embrace the darkness, so that the light will seem properly bright by comparison. Chad uses it well, but not subtly, so it becomes a matter of taste.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on November 24, 2009

HDR is a tool, yes. But so are, for example, skin-softening brushes. And in each case, if you can tell it's being used, it's being used badly.

I can't say that there's much to recommend in this video (orchestral version of Coldplay's Clocks--gack. Losing points for both subtlety and content.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Exactly what Admiral Haddock said: just labeling your photo 'HDR' is the same as labeling it 'clone stamp.' Use it in a manner that is invisible. Otherwise it is a gimmick, a crutch to prop up bad lighting.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2009

Nelson, I have nothing against HDR. I just think it's use here is exactly the sort of misuse people dislike. And really, if the fact you used HDR is an important part of your image, you're doing it wrong.
posted by chunking express at 9:24 AM on November 24, 2009

The time lapses are pretty decent, if kind of workmanlike. As for the HDR, well, sorry, but I've got to join the hate-on. There were a few moments where the colors looked downright sickening.
posted by echo target at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2009

I think the guy from this post is following the idea with much better results (albeit sans HDR, but the end result is much prettier).
posted by doctor_negative at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2009

posted by oulipian at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2009 [8 favorites]

Oh no HDR! Next they're gonna abandon photography altogether and start using primary color paints to create all-new kinds of garishly sickening combinations!

What is the world coming to?
posted by Badasscommy at 10:06 AM on November 24, 2009

Dude, this guy is no Van Goh. WTF? Maybe someone will make some amazing photographs that over-use HDR. These certainly aren't it. These might make desktop wallpapers, I suppose.
posted by chunking express at 10:40 AM on November 24, 2009

I tried to like this, I really did. Fail.
posted by bearwife at 10:56 AM on November 24, 2009

I thought this was lovely. Thank you very much for sharing it.
posted by jefficator at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2009

Over saturated and unnatural looking nature scenes are hardly what i'd describe as a subtle use of HDR.

The only one I thought was "oversaturated" was the city before the sun came up. The long exposure made the unlit ground a cool blue, while the city lights were bright orange, an odd contrast. As soon as the sun rose, however, it looked just fine.

Other than that, it WAS subtle. It mostly served to keep detail from being lost in the shadows, which I think was nice given the frequently changing lighting.

Sorry that one scene ruined the whole video for you.

Also seconding what Nelson said.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2009

That wasn't my point. I was making an analogy to the contrast of van Gogh's less "realistic" style to older paintings, especially from the Renaissance, which focused a lot on extreme detail and realism.

I just don't understand these anti-HDR, anti-tampering with the photo sentiments. Do photographs need to be photo-realistic? Surely a photo that's been HDR'ed and photoshopped into oblivion - as long as that oblivion is visually interesting - is still a cool thing.

I'm not really arguing against anyone here, just the trend that seems to be going around recently, that photographs are sacrosanct and any touching up of reality must be unnoticeable, ie that the photo must still appear to be reality.
posted by Badasscommy at 11:01 AM on November 24, 2009

I don't think that's really the case. Lots of photographers use photoshop or other manipulation in interesting ways. I like Peter Funch's faux-street photography for example. Anyway, people have been mucking around with photographs pretty much since inception. I think its only curmudgeons who are going to complain about people using clone stamps and changing level curves or doing this or that.

Ultimately, my complaint is that these are boring photographs, and that eeking out over last bit of shadow detail doesn't really change that.

CitrusFreak12, if you like the way it looks that's great. No need to worry about my opinion dude.
posted by chunking express at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2009

damn it, that should be ... every last bit of ...
posted by chunking express at 11:23 AM on November 24, 2009

I was more concerned with you saying the video consisted of "over saturated and unnatural looking nature scenes," and that the video did not exemplify HDR done decently well, not so much whether you thought the video was boring.

And I was being genuine when I said I'm sorry that one scene ruined it for you. Save for that one scene, had I not been told he used HDR, I might not have even picked up on it. I think that's a hallmark of HDR done well.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:19 PM on November 24, 2009

HDR is still in its infancy. HDR video from future sensors is going to blow y'alls minds, haters included.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:27 PM on November 24, 2009

well, i'm feeling like a freak; um . . . yes, the color in these is more intense and the resolution much sharper than your average video. BUT, it, uh, looks about like what i see out my own eyes. i don't have to suspend my disbelief at all with these time-lapse clips, no sense of the uncanny valley, so to speak. i've seen those "weird" color combinations--the "wrong" ones--with my own eyes, have stood staring, awed, immersed in the alien experience. and i wasn't tripping or anything! heh. no, everyday world views aren't usually like that (although they can be), but some special moments, days, places, scenes--yeah: that intensity and precision, just like that. surely that's what mr. richard is trying to capture? not blah, run of the mill, but special, unusual ones? i'm no photography pro, so . . .

sometimes i wonder if i was primed to see the world the way i do by my technicolor childhood--ages 3 to 7, i lived in columbia, missouri, in a trailer court, number 33 rainbow village. all my memories of that time are very intense and sharp--crayon green plantain leaves, cerulean blue sky, a certain quality of light . . . for the longest time, i thought it was nostalgia coloring, but i've been back since--gone there to catch shows, driven through on the way to kansas city--and the light is really like that, the colors are really like that, and all the edges are just a little more sharply defined. drive i-70 across the state on a sunny day, look out across the rippling fields, the rocky outcrops, the little farms in their clusters of buildings and trees--enough to stop the breath in your throat . . .

another experience along those same lines is when we were at the weald and downland open air museum north of chichester: late autumn day, alternating sun and cloud, and looking out across the valley to the far hills, i was startled to see that the quality of light immortalized in various paintings of rural england--the artists weren't exaggerating, weren't making shit up, no, really. . .

i don't know. i enjoyed this. the only complaint i have--a quibble, really--is the slight repetitiousness of the material. many of the clips are wide panoramic views, the sky sliding by at various rates and maybe the sun marching up or down the sky, while below, the cityscape or rocky landscape or snowy hills or waterway does its thing over and over and over.

two that i really liked were the one of the tawny rock against the blue sky with the moon sliding up up up and off. here, let me stop black label society for a minute to re-watch and find the exact spot . . .1:33ish. i've seen the moon in the daytime sky. i know the moon rises. i've never experienced the two put together that way. the second is at 3:59: boring boring boring--but wait! at 4:08 when the lights start to come up like jewels on the darkening hillside--beautiful! for me, there were many other lovely moments like those. hm. maybe a bit much all at once. but yeah, would watch again.
posted by miss patrish at 1:32 PM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's on the verge of obnoxious; it isn't quite. I don't like it, but I can see how others might. He has explored the visual equivalent of the overdrive/distortion stompbox and found the knob setting just the wrong side of grating and staked his claim there. To you it may be crunch love, but to me it's just a dying guitar.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:45 PM on November 24, 2009

What's all the complaining about? Are you guys not seeing what I'm seeing?
posted by DakotaPaul at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Remember kids, time lapse photography should always be grainy and use for scientific purposes.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:18 PM on November 24, 2009

Funny, I've been doing some time lapse lately. In fact, the camera is running now (thanks to Metafilter point out CHDK!). I never get enough time lapse of clouds. But that's just me. Otherwise, I've discovered construction sites are fascinating subjects. Not to watch the building grow (I lack patience to do days-long work) but watching the cranes and diggers go. Also, jet contrails are fascinating. But the Big One for me, here, is how fog moves in the valley.
posted by Goofyy at 8:54 AM on November 25, 2009

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