Sutro v Clouds, Adventures in Time-Lapse Photography

I’ve been shooting time-lapse video of bits of the San Francisco skyline and sky for a couple of months now.  Bernalwood has been kind enough to feature a few of them on that fine local blog.  The video above, “Sutro v Clouds,” is just about my favorite (maybe tied with Wednesday night’s moonrise).  In this video, you’re looking at the following “layers,” front to back:

  • 1500 block of Oakdale
  • All Hallows Church spire
  • Bernal Hill
  • Sutrito Tower
  • Twin Peaks
  • Sutro/clouds
  • Clouds/Sutro

It’s amazing how little equipment it takes to do these, if you’ve already got an iPhone.  The mini-tripod, telephoto lens, and iPhone case with threads that you screw the lens into, are just $35 total from  Yes, I mentioned this in the last post, and no, I’m not getting any personal financial reward from mentioning them.  I just think it’s a fantastic deal!  The time-lapse app I’ve been using lately is iMotion HD, which is free to try but costs a few bucks if you want to export anything (in-app purchase).

Super hi-tech rig

Did I mention $35 at

That’s an old t-shirt/windshield cleaning rag propping up the back legs of the tripod.  The slope of the dashboard made the tripod want to tip over backwards, so I improvised.  On another shoot, I could only get the shot from the driver’s side, where there wasn’t enough room to stand up the tripod.  I had to lay it down flat and use the weight of an external iPhone battery to hold it in place.

Sutro & Sutrito setup

Tripod is collapsed, held in place by the weight of an external battery

I shoot at 1 frame per second, and set the video to play back at 30 fps.  So for a one-minute video like “Sutro v Clouds,” above, I’m sitting in my car for 30 minutes.  I try not to look like a stalker, but once a neighbor stopped by and asked if I was on a stakeout.

Wider view of the time-lapse scene

Wider view of the time-lapse scene

I was really pleased with the conjunction of various towers and peaks from this location, and couldn’t believe my luck when the clouds started putting on a show.  I got home and threw it up on the big screen with the Apple TV to admire it.

Cat has a suggestion

Cat has a suggestion

My cat was also interested, but she had a suggestion on composition.

Moar peaks



2 thoughts on “Sutro v Clouds, Adventures in Time-Lapse Photography

  1. Pingback: Modeling Sutrito Tower | Jobius

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