Time Lapse Photography

Time Lapse Photography

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Updated Jan 14, 2018 at 05:11PM EST by Brad.

Added Mar 12, 2013 at 01:42PM EDT by Don.

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Time Lapse Photography is a video-editing technique in which the frame rate of a moving image is significantly reduced to make time appear to pass faster than normal. The practice is considered to be the opposite of slow motion.


The earliest known use of time-lapsing has been credited to the 1897 silent film Carrefour De L'Opera directed by Georges Méliès.[1] In the early 1900s, time-lapsed films of biological organisms were produced by French filmmaker and biologist Jean Comandon, British naturalist F. Percy Smith and Russian-American photographer and biologist Roman Vishniac. In the 1920s, German filmmaker Arnold Fanck used time-lapse techniques in a series of mountaineering films. In the 1950s, time-lapse footage of plants growing was featured in the Walt Disney documentary film Secrets of Life. In the 1980s, the PBS television series NOVA aired a full episode on time-lapse and slow motion photography. By the mid 1990s, advents in digital photography and video-editing software programs led to an expansion of time-lapse photography into videos on the web.


On February 10th, 1996, the time-lapse stock footage site Timelapse.com[3] was created. On April 28th, 1999, the website Timelapse.org[2] was launched, which features videos, tutorials, photography equipment information and a discussion forum. On July 25th, 2006, YouTuber jockelinde uploaded a video titled "Time lapse tomato," in which a tomato is shown decomposing over the course of two months (shown below, left). In the following seven years, the video received more than 1.79 million views and 2,800 comments. On March 2nd, 2007, YouTuber mindlapse uploaded a time-lapse video of radish seeds sprouting in nine days (shown below, right), which garnered upwards of 890,000 views and 240 comments in roughly six years.

On January 11th, 2008, YouTuber JaGe090879 uploaded time-lapse footage of a gecko being eaten by ants (shown below, left), gaining over 6.98 million views and 24,800 comments in the first six years. On March 20th, 2009, YouTuber Christoph Rehage uploaded a video showing the progress of his beard growth as he walked though China (shown below, right). In the following five years, the video garnered upwards of 2.94 million views and 5,200 comments.

On August 13th, 2010, YouTuber differentenergy uploaded footage of a hotel being constructed over the course of two days (shown below, left), which accumulated over six million views and 4,400 comments in three years. On April 15th, 2011, the TSO Photography Vimeo channel uploaded a video titled "The Mountain," feauturing time-lapse footage from Mount Teide in the Canary Islands (shown below, right). In the next two years, the video received more than 24.8 million plays and 2,400 comments. In May of that year, the mobile app Lapse It[6] was released for iOS and Android devices, which allows users to create time-lapse videos using their smart phone camera.

Notable Examples

Additional videos can be found on YouTube[5] and Vimeo[4] under the keyword "timelapse."

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Time Lapse Photography

[2] Timelapse.org – the art of capturing time

[3] Timelapse.com – Time-lapse stock footage library

[4] Vimeo – timelapse

[5] YouTube – timelapse

[6] Lapse It – Lapse It

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