I'm very happy to present The Cloud Palace, my latest London timelapse film.
It is made up of about 60,000 RAW photographs focusing on the sky above London City and Canary Wharf.
It was recorded almost entirely from the balcony of our new flat in East London over about 2 months during the second 2020 Covid-19 lockdown period.
I used five different cameras (details below) and five lenses, as well as a number of post production software applications.
Make sure to watch on a big screen with a good sound system or headphones.
Camera gear used
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Lumix S5 – On loan from Lumix UK. It's like the S1 but in a smaller body with slightly different functions. Review coming soon.
Canon EOS 6DMkII – I've had two 6DMkII cameras for years now, and I still use them every week. Phenomenal bang for buck, especially if you have lots of Canon glass like I do. Check out my videos here and here and here.
Canon EF 16-35 f4 – A lens I've had for years. I've shot hundreds of thousands of photos with this one! Tack sharp and great price.
Canon EF 24-70 f4 – One of my favourite timelapse lenses. Great price, sharp all around and a decent zoom range. Also has a built in stabiliser which is great for hyperlapse photography and a macro mode which is fun to play with.
Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 – Widely regarded as one of the best lenses Canon has ever made. It was the first big L lens I bought myself at the start of my professional career and I haven't regretted this purchase for a second. Highly recommend!
Lumix 20-60 f3.5 – f5.6 – One of Lumix' latest kit lenses. A nice wide angle to a medium zoomed in image is what you get with it. Decently sharp, very light weight and solid performance.
Lumix 24-105 f4 – The kit lens that came with the S1. Big and heavy but great performance. I've sadly managed to put a scratch on my front glass however this doesn't show up in photos, luckily!
Timelapse shooting workflow
The majority of these sequences were shot without me attending the cameras whatsoever. For static light shots (where the light doesn't change so either at night or in the daytime) I set the camera to Manual mode and dial in the exposure myself (aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance.
The photos get triggered at a set interval either by the internal intervalometer which you can find in both the Canon and the Lumix cameras or an external remote like the LRTimelapse Pro Timer 2.5. I have the new 3.0 model and will be reviewing it soon.
Each sequence is recorded as a series of RAW photos. .RW2 for the Lumix and .CR2 and .CR3 for the Canon cameras. Some of the sequences were shot using the new Canon Compressed RAW (cRAW) format, and I very much doubt you'll be able to spot which ones!
For holy grail shots, where we go from day to night or from night to day, I recorded each shot in Aperture Priority mode with auto ISO on. I usually don't recommend shooting with this method but advancements in camera firmware as well as post production software has made this a very attractive approach. If you're new to timelapse or holy grail timelapse shooting I still recommend the manual approach to get a better understanding of what happens to the RAW files.
Check out my free e-book about the basics of timelapse to learn more about planning, shooting and editing your own beautiful timelapses.
Timelapse editing workflow
I first generate a project folder structure using my Pro Timelapse Template for Post Haste. This automatically generates project files and folder structures based on a template, which means that it's very easy to find older footage in the future. This is useful for when you need to re-edit certain sequences or clips for a licensing deal for example.
The SD cards then get offloaded onto an internal or external SSD (wherever you generated the above folders). Working from a HDD really slows down the whole process and with so many images to edit you want to be as efficient as possible.
The contents of these folders get imported into Lightroom Classic using the Add method. This keeps them in the folders where you offloaded them.
I then use Timelapse + Studio to scan the folders for timelapse sequences and then based on the generated collections I turn them into new folders in the catalog.
I colour grade the static light sequences and save the metadata.
For holy grail shots I use LRTimelapse to gradually ramp exposures and white balances, as well as remove any flickering caused by aperture or faulty light metering by the cameras.
When all the edits are done all metadata (edits) get saved to .XMP sidecart files, after which all these folders/sequences are loaded into Adobe After Effects.
I then simply export full resolution Apple ProRes 422 HQ files and let that run overnight as it takes quite a while.
These clips then get imported in an NLE like Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro to add sound design, music, titles, extra effects etc.
I hope you enjoyed this new London timelapse film and the little behind the scenes. If you're interested in learning everything I know about timelapse photography (or how to make money with your hobby) then check out these e-books I wrote:
Get all the best tools and techniques to become a great timelapse photographer.