A blog about outdoor adventure and Vanlife

In Search of the Sleeping Lady

New Projects for a New Year

This is my first attempt at time-lapse video.  Think of this as a test and “prequel” to my real project.  Comments appreciated. (You can watch it in full screen on YouTube).

Mount Tamalpais is known locally as “The Sleeping Lady.”  There are a number of variations on the legend of the Sleeping Lady.  My favorite is of the beautiful Miwok Indian maiden who was abandoned by her lover.  She laid down and died of heartbreak on the slopes of Tamalpais.  The mountain was so moved by her grief, that it rose up and took her shape.

Hot Coffee and cold winter mornings while the timelapse camera does its thing

Hot Coffee and cold winter mornings while the timelapse camera does its thing

I have a fascination with time-lapse videos.  I love being able to see nature and light speed up in a way not possible in a few minutes of looking at a particular view.  There are some outstanding time-lapse videos showing up.  2013 is the year that I stop merely watching, and make my own.  Making time-lapse videos is not as easy as it looks, though.  I’m not a professional photographer by any means, and still in the trial and error stage of the process.  It’s been a real learning process in learning how to manipulate the camera for rapidly changing light.  I’ve regularly shot more than 2,000 photos for a few seconds of footage.

On the positive side, I get to hike out to some of my favorite outdoor places, set up the camera, and enjoy the views.  So much of my outdoor life is about being on the move, that it’s nice to stop and enjoy the view before moving on.

Sunrise before an incoming storm.

I have two stories that I want to tell through time-lapse video (one about the hidden gems of Mt. Tamalpais, and one about hidden Tahoe).  What I lack in photography skills, I make up for in my ability to find beautiful, little known places.  My photography and editing skills need to catch up.  Learning new skills is exciting- and sometimes frustrating.  Regular readers of this blog know that it is about outdoor adventure and reveling in the joy of being in nature.

Hiking out in the dark to set up the camera before sunrise

Hiking out in the dark to set up the camera before sunrise

One of the things that I want to do with my time-lapse projects is to use camera equipment that is within reach of “normal” people.  Many of the outstanding time-lapse videos I’ve seen have $3K-$30K+ in camera equipment.  I’m using a $400 compact camera (Canon G15), $30 interval timer, and $60  travel tripod.  It’s important for me to be able to go light and fast, and have easy set up.   It’s also important that the adventure and experience is more important that the equipment and gear.  I won’t be hauling $5,000 in camera gear through dense brush in search of a hidden waterfall.  Then again, I’m an outdoor enthusiast, not a professional photographer.

In the gallery below are a few pics from my adventures.  Now I’m looking at them for locations to shoot time-lapse video.  I’ve come to some of these spots for more than a decade and have count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever seen anyone else.

Here’s to new projects and goals for 2013…

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10 Responses »

  1. Loving your captures – thanks for sharing the great outdoors:) Happy Friday!


  2. Beautiful video, can’t wait to see more from you!


  3. Beautiful capture of Northern California colors. Bravo. Thanks for sharing winter imagery.


  4. Wow if that is your first attempt at time-lapse then you are a natural! What software did you use? Final Cut, Premier? We are big fans of exposing the beauty of the outdoors and you are inspiring!


    • Thanks for the kind words. I am actually using a really cheap setup. In terms of software- Apple Aperture ($80) is my photo software. Time-Lapse ($0.99) is the software I use to stitch together the pics into a movie file, and iMovie (included with Mac) is what I used to put the actual film together. I could have also used iPhoto instead of Aperture and my timelapse investment would be about $1.

      All the footage was shot with a compact camera (Canon G15) with a cheap ($30) invervalometer.

      It’s definitely been a process of trial and error. I’ve done about a dozen test time-lapse test sequences with various results. The process of learning new skills is always fun and pushes my photography skills forward. I am going to convert to Adobe Lightroom and LR timelapse, which are more suited to editing for timelapse and getting rid of flickering and artifact (but also a bigger investment).


  5. A successful first try, I’d say. Love the musical pairing!


  6. Some incredible pieces of nature here, really enjoyed that, thanks.


    • Thank you. I’ve been working on the time lapse for a couple months now. My results now are much more professional than what I posted. I hope to have a short 5-7 minute film about Mt. Tamalpais (in Northern California) finished in the next month or so.


    • Thanks- I’ve been futzing with the timelapse for the last couple months. It’s been a process of trial and error. My results are getting much better. I hope to release a 5-7 minute short film about in a month or so. Check in again. I’ve re-edited the snippets you saw into a much more professional looking piece.


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