About a month ago, Chris from The Chronos Project setup a contest to win one of his very trick Lens Apparatus systems. Chris is a well known DIY guru for all things time-lapse. He does an excellent job of taking simple ideas and offering realistic solutions on any budget. The great thing about Chris is that he not only offers these solutions for purchase but also helps people who want to build their own versions. That really speaks for how great Chris is to the community.
His contest idea was quite basic, but very challenging. He wanted people to show off their manual focus changes in a time-lapse. During a time-lapse it can add great depth to have the focal point change mid way though the shot. This sounds easy enough but to maintain a very steady and smooth shot during a time-lapse is extremely difficult. You are constantly touching and changing the camera settings and anyone that has done time-lapse work knows that one of the very basic concepts to a good time-lapse is to keep everything smooth. Manually moving your focus point on your camera over a period of several minutes can easily lead to a disaster if you bump the camera out of place. Also you have to gradually move the focus point in a smooth manner. You can’t just change it fully between two different pictures, It wouldn’t look right.
That’s where the Lens Apparatus comes into play. With this device, you can program a stepper motor to gradually and precisely change your focal point on your camera. Automation is a beautiful thing in time-lapse. It opens the door to endless complexity that makes things more amazing in the final product. So in order to win one of these trick devices I did a few quick last second time-lapse shots on the road.
The first stop was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Setup right at the base of one side of the arch I focused right in front of the camera and began a 20 minute time-lapse. Several minutes into the shot I began to slowly and precisely turn the focus ring until I was focused on the top of the arch. It’s extremely nerve racking to be hovering only a fraction of an inch away from your camera lens and touch it ever so slightly to move the focus point after each picture. Luckily it turned out decent. Below is a picture of some down time near the end of the shot after the hard part of focus changing was done.
The next stop I made was in Nashville at the Parthenon. It’s a pretty cool building mirroring the more famous version in Greece. I struggled to find a good focus change shot to do here but am mostly pleased with the results. Again, quite anxious during the shoots hoping that during those 4-5 minutes of intense focus changing nobody would enter the shot, bump into me, or even just myself move the camera accidentally. Another instagram BTS shot during the non focus changing points of the shoot.
With all that said, below is a final product of the shoots for the contest. Be sure to watch in HD.
Also be sure to check out Chris’ site over at TheChronosProject.com.
Wish us luck!