Time-Lapse Video Makes Yosemite Look Like Another Planet

A gorgeous video to transport you to a harsh world of rock, ice, and water.

Early March here in Brooklyn, New York. I pull the cord on my semi-broken venetian blinds. Out the window I see a monotone sky somewhere on the light side of gray. Black plastic bodega bags flap helplessly and pathetically in the bare upper branches of spindly urban trees. Pedestrians in hats and scarves and coats and boots lean into the wind on their way to the subway station. Unidentifiable scraps of garbage litter the street down below. They’re colorful but bring no joy. The world is gray even when it’s colored.


But I see a video online! A video of another world, a world where the stark environment is beautiful rather than deadening. Photo/videographers Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill hiked for more than 200 miles, carrying upward of 70 pounds each of camera equipment, through the rugged and otherworldly landscape of Yosemite National Park. Over the course of a combined 45 days, the pair set up and captured time-lapse video of the stars, of frozen waterfalls and craggy mountains, of ancient stones and deep chasms.

Time-lapse video is a technique that lets you show days of footage in mere seconds. Regular video requires at least 24 frames per second; the raw footage for time-lapse is many, many times fewer than that, maybe one frame per 30 seconds. Then time-lapse footage is sped up to 24 frames per second (or higher), which tricks our eyes into seeing it as smooth video, in which everything is moving faster than usual.

The photography in this video used standard astrophotography methods: crank up the ISO, open up the lens aperture as wide as possible, and use a very slow shutter speed. Basically, do everything very, very slowly so as to let in as much ambient light as possible. And boy, did it pay off. You can learn more about how the video was made over on the duo’s website.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.