Wednesday, Feb 2, 2012

Mission Sunset Timelapses

My place in the San Francisco Mission District has a great view of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower. It's a pleasure to watch the sunsets every day, especially in the summer when the fog rolls in from the Sunset and does an ollie over Dolores Heights. So I always thought it would be neat to share it.

I was inspired by @BurritoJustice and Ken Murphy to do some timelapse photography of the spectacle. This turns out to be pretty easy! I got a beat up Canon Powershot on EBay -- the screen was shot so it went for not much scratch at all.

I used gphoto2 running on an Ubuntu machine to grab photos, basically as quickly as I could get them off the camera (roughly one every 5 seconds). I'm getting them at fairly large resolution (2048 x 1536), though I crop and downsample them for the video. To create a 20fps video from the still photos, I use ffmpeg, which is amazingly powerful provided you get the command line options right.

On with the show!

2023 Edit: Whoops, the site ( hosting these videos was shut down with no backup or recourse. Let that be a lesson!

Anyway here are some videos from another site

So as an unrepentant perfectionist, I still see some areas of improvement. Despite a fairly decent camera mount, I still see more camera motion than I would like: I am going to try bolting the camera directly to the building, but I suspect the building itself moves.



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