Timelapse Photography of an Eerily Empty San Francisco

What would San Francisco look like if all its inhabitants were suddenly to disappear? What if the city became a ghost town and the only thing that remained were its many landmarks, places where people would come from all over the world to visit? In Ross Ching’s eerie timelapse, The City by the Bay, you can experience just that. Have a look at the mystifying production right here:

The idea of an empty city may sound appealing to those who don’t like to have to navigate through throngs of people, but seeing a desolate Golden Gate Bridge is kind of apocalyptic.

timelapse photographytimelapse techniqueSo just how did this photographer shut down the entire city long enough to capture the thousands of photographs he needed to assemble this timelapse? Well, he didn’t actually evacuate the city. Instead, he worked a little Photoshop magic. Okay, a lot of Photoshop magic and even some After Effects and Adobe Premier Pro magic. Interested in knowing the specifics? Take a look at this next video, which Ching so kindly made, that reveals his workflow:

Admittedly, Ching makes his work sound easy, but anyone familiar with how a timelapse is made can tell you just how time consuming the entire editing process is. It can take months to compile the thousands of still images used to make one of these videos, plus to clear the city of traffic and pedestrians using time consuming layer masking techniques, Ching essentially doubled the workload. To really top it off, Ching is currently working to expand this into a series with videos for Seattle, New York City, and Washington D.C. already planned. That’s some serious dedication.

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2 Comments

  1. Puru says:

    Amazing and inspiring !!! Now I need to learn this :)

  2. Ken Crost says:

    Rather than erasing each car by hand, why not let Photoshop do it by using an Image Stack? The technique is discussed here:
    http://help.adobe.com/en_US/photoshop/cs/using/WS1E389632-4B37-425e-8EAB-1384C0B432D3a.html

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