Cityscape Timelapse Photography with an Amazing Mirrored Effect

Imagine taking timelapse videos of 5 major U.S. cities: Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Now imagine taking these timelapse videos with a kaleidoscope instead of a lens. What you have imagined is Michael Shainblum‘s latest creation, Mirror City. In this video, Shainblum has applied a mirror effect in post-processing to create an abstract but powerful result, it has definitely been hitting a nerve with a quarter of a million views in the last few days:

In photography, we strive to capture what’s real. Photographers want to capture photos that replicate reality just as they see it. But in this pursuit of capturing reality, there is a divide. There are those who believe that images and videos recorded should be unedited and unaltered. Reality is what comes out of the camera. Nothing has been tampered with. No increased saturation, no exaggerated contrast. What you capture is a true replicate of reality. Then there are those who believe that cameras are limited in their ability to capture reality and that alterations should be made in order to recreate the scene in a more realistic manner. Photographers don’t just land on one end or the other of this spectrum either. They are many in between who have certain beliefs on the amount of editing they believe is acceptable.

Even though we are all trying to capture reality, we are also trying to make a statement, send a message, or create a mood. To obtain this goal, we sometimes have to exaggerate the scene to get to what’s real. Take Shainblum’s timelapse for example. Obviously, this is not what reality looks like. Yet Shainblum has captured something more real than what you could do in a normal timelapse. He’s captured the movement, lights, patterns, energy, and chaoticness that comprises a large city. By altering reality, he has made a statement about reality that rings true. The camera motion control in this project was done with a Dynamic Perception rig.

mirror city timelapse symmetry

The mirror effect creates an eye-pleasing symmetry

“When I first started Mirror City, I wanted to create a video that was completely out of the norm. I wanted to showcase something unique and artistic, which takes Timelapse photography into a more abstract direction. Mirror City is a visual story through some of the great American cities: Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. These clips were all processed from their original form, into the kaleidoscopic visuals that you see in this video. Many people visit these large cities every day, and all of these places have been shot and filmed, but I wanted to emulate these urban landscapes in a way that nobody has even seen before. I wanted to put man-made geometric shapes, mixed with elements of color and movement to create less of a structured video, and more of a plethora of visual stimulation.

The video starts off with simple mirrors and recognizable architecture, as the video progresses, so does the visual stimulation, showing the real abstraction of the piece.

I have worked on this piece for an extremely long amount of time. I have spent time mirroring images and videos for the past five years, and I have been working on this specific piece for about four months. I felt it was time to combine Timelapse photography and the simplicity of a kaleidoscope, and create ‘Mirror City’.” -Michael Shainblum

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One response to “Cityscape Timelapse Photography with an Amazing Mirrored Effect”

  1. Paul Francis Thompson says:

    Marvellous work! Best time lapse I’ve seen. I like your imaginative approach.


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