While putting together my most recent film, I spent some time re-shooting and processing old and new footage to see how the skyline has grown over the past 3-4 years. Here are some comparison gif files (use the slider to compare):
Take a fast paced timelapse tour of Austin, the fastest growing city in the United States. Filmed in 2016 and 2017, "SCENERY - Austin" is an independently funded and solo-produced timelapse and hyperlapse project exploring the growing skyline of the flourishing capital of the Lone Star State.
"SCENERY - Austin" is a compilation of highlights from 200+ hours of shooting and 600+ hours of post-production. All motion control was performed manually with hyperlapse techniques (for long-run scenes) or by leveraging my own custom designed and manufactured digital motion control systems (for the short-run scenes).
Music is courtesy of Le Nonsense (soundcloud.com/lenonsensebeats).
This year I shot the fireworks from Zilker Park on the downward slope of the Great Lawn. Half the park was still closed due to Trail of Lights that had ended a week earlier but I was able to shoot over the fence, and the foreground was pretty dark anyway.
The smoke from the fireworks this year was particularly severe, compounded by a breeze that was very slow and intermittent out of the south so it lingered in pockets all over the north side of town for hours. Driving and walking around town afterward took a toll on my lungs and sinuses that I'm still feeling 36 hours later! I felt like I was in the Far Harbor DLC for Fallout 4, where random clouds of radioactive fog drift all over the map and damage your character.
I'm excited to share Odyssey, a collection of some of my favorite timelapse and hyperlapse scenes I've captured over the past year in Austin, Texas.
The music is courtesy of Home (soundcloud.com/home-2001), a talented producer and composer out of Florida.
Unfortunately this month's appearance of the so-called "supermoon" was obscured by overcast, but here's a photo I snapped around this time last year of another supermoon.
A "supermoon" is what the media likes to call a full moon when it's near the perigee of its orbit, i.e. it's at its closest approach to the Earth. The Moon gets this close to the Earth once during each orbit of the Moon around the Earth, so about once every 28 days; thus the Moon appearing this large in and of itself is nothing special, but I suppose it makes for feel-good fodder on slow news days. In actuality the Moon only appears slightly larger; about 14% larger than it appears at apogee (this is when it appears its smallest), or around 6-9% bigger than the average apparent size of the Moon. Because of this small difference, combined with the fact that we only see the moon intermittently over long periods of time, and in different phases, it is highly unlikely that the average person would naturally notice the Moon was larger or smaller from week to week.
There are a few reasons why people "notice" a supermoon being bigger than a regular full moon, and it all comes down to our imperfect human perception.
First, the news reminds us to look at the Moon because it will be bigger than usual. We go out and look, and because a bigger moon is what we're expecting, we agree "well, I guess it does sorta look bigger." This is a form of confirmation bias. In truth, most of us have no intuitive sense for how big the Moon should actually appear, certainly not to an accuracy that would make us notice that the moon was 5%, 10%, or even 14% larger than at some other time we saw it.
Secondly, a full moon rises during sunset because a full moon is always on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. Most people are out and able to see the Moon around sunset during their evening commute, so when there's a full moon (or a supermoon), most people will see it as it's rising, close to the horizon. When the Moon is close to the horizon it always appears bigger regardless of where it is in its orbit -- this is an optical illusion of sorts because suddenly we see the Moon next to objects on land and its comparative size appears bigger. This problem, sometimes called the "moon illusion" is a long-known issue with human perception and has been discussed by scholars for thousands of years. Click here for more information on the "moon illusion." Typically, doctored photographs (of which there are many on social media after the media hypes a supermoon) fraudulently increase the size of the Moon almost to the point of ridiculousness, most likely because the photographer thought that the Moon "looked really big!" and is confused as to why their photographs don't reflect what the optical illusion had them perceive, regardless of the focal length the photo was captured at. The photograph they took is indeed accurate, but being a flat image, it just doesn't play into the same part of our brain that produces that optical illusion of the Moon looking huge next to the horizon. In actuality, any time you see the sun or the moon rise behind features on land, it will appear very big.
As a consequence of being marginally closer to the Earth, a supermoon also appears slightly brighter, owing to the fact that the flux (or density) of reflected photons from the surface of the Moon is higher when we get closer to it. An analogy for this would be that your shower feels more intense when you move your face closer to the shower head. However, I would argue that most people wouldn't notice this change in apparent brightness any more than they would notice an increase in apparent size. Our eyes involuntarily adjust to low light levels all the time, and it would be impossible to make an assertion that the Moon was brighter one night vs. another without using some additional equipment (a camera with manual exposure controls would suffice). Also, the clarity of the atmosphere (depending on temperature, humidity, particulates, etc) varies frequently, adding yet another variable into the situation that we humans are not well suited for evaluating without special equipment.
To me, supermoons are fun just because they get people interested in and talking about the Moon. The Moon, while not a favorite subject of mine in and of itself, is definitely one of my favorite compositional elements in a photograph, and all the overzealous reporting in the world won't change that.
Here are a few photos from the past two months that I haven't shared yet; I very easily get swallowed up in big projects and start to neglect all my social media stuff, which I've been really bad about this summer.
One of my favorite shots in July came when I captured the moon transiting the capitol dome. The clouds were perfect and I managed to get just the image composition I was looking for.
Earlier this week I was doing some traffic shots in south Austin, from which I noticed the UT tower's lighting was going on and off and had a bizarre non-tungsten color balance.
When I got closer I saw that they'd brought in a special lighting system and were running through various test programs on their equipment. I realized this must be preparation for the 2015 Gone to Texas ceremony scheduled for the following night. Gone to Texas is a UT ceremony to welcome incoming freshman to the university and is so named because legend has it families that pulled up roots to move to Texas before it became a republic would write "GTT" on the door of their vacated homes, short for "Gone to Texas."
University staff ran through every color of the rainbow in varying combinations on different sections of the building and were even projecting animations and video onto the south facade of the tower. I have more photos from that night posted on my Instagram page.
Just wanted to share a quick shot I took this morning at sunrise from the Palmer Events Center. I've been chasing a cloudless sunrise for a few mornings now with no luck; at least the cloudy sunrises have a few nice moments!
It's been just about a year since I released Riding the Light, and, despite shooting a ton of footage in that time, I hadn't gotten around to releasing another short film. I finally set aside some time this month to put together my latest film, Austin Nights, which I'm both excited and proud to present to you now.
The music is courtesy of yng vapor, a most excellent electronic producer and composer out of Baltimore.
In a city with over 300 sunny days per year, a pervasive fog shrouding the entire region is quite rare. Such conditions descended upon Austin in the early hours of March 4th, 2015.
Conditions were calm and visibility varied from 200-500 yards depending on local ground moisture.
On a clear night Lou Neff Point in Zilker Park offers one of the best views of the Austin skyline. Move the slider below to compare foggy conditions against a clear night.
The Great Lawn in Zilker Park, still moist from a light evening drizzle, produced a dense and static ground fog.
I managed to stop by campus tonight just in time to catch the Moon setting behind the UT tower.
This is the tail end of what the media has been calling the "black supermoon," but really "supermoon" just means the moon is at the perigee (minimum altitude) of its slightly eccentric orbit when a full or a new moon occurs.