I came across this absolutely stunning time lapse film titled Cityscape Chicago by photographer Eric Hines and wanted to share it with you. I was so inspired that within 10 minutes I was searching for an email so that I could ask him for an interview. To my amazement, and despite being on the other side of the world, he was online and responded straight away. With a few quick emails back and forth we had a quick answer and question session including some great behind the scenes photos. So watch the time lapse clip first and once you’re all excited read on to find out more about how it was done.


Eric Hines


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(All photos courtesy of Eric Hines)

Nic: The images you captured are so bright (and quite stunning), but the city lights aren’t overblown. Is this HDR or something else? And do you have any recommendations for other DSLR users out there?

Eric: No HDR was used in the making of Cityscape Chicago. I paid close attention to the histogram while shooting to make sure that everything was properly exposed, and that if it the lights were overexposed, that they were only slightly. Checking your histogram is probably the best piece of advice I can give on making sure you are exposing your scenes properly. If you know that light is going to change, either brighter or darker, compensate for the change at the beginning of the shot.

Nic: On your blog you mention a motion-control dolly. I’m guessing this is what gives your time lapse movement and that the dolly has to mechanically move in synch with the time lapse capture? Can you talk a little bit about this equipment? What did you use? Was it hard to get it where you needed it? And do you have any behind the scenes photos of you using it?

Eric: The motion-control dollies that I used during the making of the film were the Kessler Crane Cineslider and Shuttle Pod Mini. The systems are incredibly easy to set up and get going quickly. They are also super reliable, which is a must for anything you are using to create your timelapses with. Because there are so many variables that can mess up a shot while shooting timelapse, having reliable equipment is really necessary. Getting around with a lot of gear can get a bit complicated, but luckily my friend from the city, Matt Young, was kind enough to help me carry gear and help set up shots throughout the project.

Nic: Getting access to so many locations must have been quite a challenge? Do you have any tips on approaching people or property owners?

Eric: Getting access to some of these locations was indeed a challenge. When we started the project, we knew that we were going to need to get some good views high above the city and that the whole piece couldn’t be at ground level. Using the internet I was able to contact individuals about the possible use of their space to get the shots that we needed. Some replied, some didn’t. Hotel 71 and The Hard Rock Hotel were very nice to let me into their building to get some of my favorite shots that are in the piece. I recommend anyone trying to do something like this to just get online and find out as much as you can about the buildings and who owns them, then send some emails explaining what you are trying to accomplish. It never hurts to just ask, some people might say yes!

cityscape chicago

Nic: Are you planning on capturing another city? And if so which one?

Eric: There are no plans right now to capture other cities. If the opportunities present themselves, I will sure take them, though. I have done a lot of shooting around Los Angeles as well, but don’t have any plans on a specific piece of the city right now. One I would really like to capture though would be Seattle. I drove through there once and really liked the place. The area is beautiful as well.