Georgia Tech vs. Tulane Basketball Time-lapse

Not long after Georgia Tech asked me to shoot a time-lapse of one of their football games, they asked me to shoot another one of the school’s inaugural basketball game at the newly renovated McCamish Pavilion.

I went to the arena a few days before the game to find some good vantage points. I set up my D300 + Tokina 11-16mm lens with a Gorillapod in the press box, and then I walked around the arena during the game with my D7000 + Tokina 11-16 and a tripod.

It’s been a lot of fun to shoot these sports events as time-lapses. They’ve been quite challenging because you really have to be on your toes, and I was constantly running from point to point trying to get shots of the action. Little did I know that I would soon be doing another sports-related time-lapse! I’m currently editing a big one that spanned three days. LOTS of photos to stitch together (30,887 to be exact) and I’ll hopefully have it ready here in the next week. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here’s the basketball time-lapse. Hope you enjoy!

Georgia Tech vs Tulane, Men’s Basketball from David Kosmos Smith on Vimeo.

One Week in Seattle

Well, I was actually there for six days, to be exact. Stayed at the Woodmark Hotel & Spa in Kirkland, which is just across Lake Washington from Seattle. I had been to Seattle once before, but only for like a day, so this was basically my first trip there.

I used Google Maps to do some location scouting beforehand and created a customized map with pins of all the places I wanted to check out. Combined with an iPhone, it makes for a pretty handy tool for photographers in an unfamiliar city.

I also had a friend that lives in Seattle to show me around. Stevan is an old sushi chef that used to work for me back in my restaurant biz days. He moved out to Seattle four years ago and recently took up a job at Shiro’s Sushi. Shiro Kashiba is a former apprentice of the famous sushi master Jiro Ono from the Japanese documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro also had another protégé, Daisuke Nakazawa, who is known in the film as the one who made over 200 trays of tamago before finally getting it right. Well, Daisuke has also recently taken a job at Shiro’s, and we were able to sit in front of him and sample his version of what he’s learned from the master.

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My buddy Stevan!

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Daisuke Nakazawa from Jiro Dreams of Sushi

In the following days, I visited Seattle’s main attractions, like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Kerry Park, as well as some other spots off the beaten path. Stevan was kind enough to drive me all over town to get some amazing views of Seattle. He even took me to Bruce and Brandon Lee’s grave site at Lake View Cemetery, which was pretty cool to see.

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We were definitely lucky with the weather while we were there. Six days there and I may have been caught in a total of an hour or two of rain the entire time. I even bought a Kata rain sleeve thinking I wouldn’t survive the week without one. Never used it once.

Definitely loved Seattle. Awesome city, beautiful scenery, great food. I hope to go back again and maybe do some fishing next time!

Here are some of the photos I ended up with. Probably have a few more that I’ll edit, and I shot a ton of time-lapse clips as well. I’ll try and put something together over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

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An amazing little hole in the wall called Thai Tom

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… with some of the best pad Thai ever.

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Georgia Tech football game time-lapse

Recently, I was asked by the Georgia Tech Athletic Department to shoot a time-lapse of one of their football games. Sounded like a lot of fun, so I took them up on it. It was a lot of fun, a little challenging, but all-in-all a good day.

I set up my D300 in the press box with my Tokina 11-16mm lens. I then walked around the stadium with my D7000 on a tripod trying to get closer shots of the field, the players, the fans, and all the action. 

Here’s what I came up with. Hope you enjoy!

Georgia Tech vs. BYU from David Kosmos Smith on Vimeo.

New project in the works: Atlanta time-lapse

Finishing my “EuroLapse” project has motivated me to start working on another time lapse project. This time, I’m going to feature my hometown, Atlanta! I’m hoping to use some dolly movements for this project as it wasn’t possible to carry all that extra gear around Europe for three months.

I’m planning on incorporating some of Atlanta’s best views and major icons, such as the CNN Center, World of Coca Cola, Stone Mountain, etc. My first shots were taken at Bobby Dodd Stadium yesterday, right here in midtown. I was fortunate enough to gain access to the stands and ended up getting a nice thunderstorm rolling through the city last night.

I’m super pumped about this project and can’t wait to start getting some of these shots down. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Florida for the next few weeks, so I won’t be able to shoot in Atlanta for a while. But, I’m hoping to have this done sometime around the end of summer.

 

Scene by scene list of cities in EuroLapse

I had someone comment about not knowing what city was being shown in each scene of “EuroLapse,” so I decided to make a list. So here it is, scene by scene:

0:00-0:07 Lentvaris, Lithuania

0:08-0:13 Grigiškės, Lithuania

0:14-0:20 Santorini

0:21-0:27 Copenhagen

0:28-0:30 Helsinki

0:31-0:33 Vernazza, Cinque Terre

0:34-0:40 Amsterdam

0:41-0:47 Stockholm

0:48-0:54 Helsinki

0:55-1:04 Riga

1:05-1:11 Paris

1:12-1:25 Stockholm

1:26-1:31 Copenhagen

1:32-1:38 Riga

1:39-1:45 Stockholm

1:46-1:52 Paris

1:53-1:59 Copenhagen

2:00-2:13 Paris

2:14-2:20 Vernazza, Cinque Terre

2:21-2:26 Manarola, Cinque Terre

2:27-2:33 Vernazza, Cinque Terre

2:34-2:50 London

2:51-2:57 Paris

2:58-3:04 Milan

3:05-3:11 Helsinki

3:12-3:18 London

3:19-3:32 Stockholm

3:33-3:39 Paris

3:40-3:46 London

3:47-3:49 Riga

3:50-4:03 Stockholm

4:04-4:09 Helsinki

4:10-4:16 Vilnius

4:17-4:23 Stockholm

4:24-4:30 Helsinki

4:31-4:37 Spinalonga, Crete

4:38-4:51 Riga

EuroLapse

So I finally finished my time lapse of Europe. As you may remember, Inna and I spent three months in Europe last summer, traveling to ten different countries while making Lithuania our homebase. I ended up shooting over 30,000 images to use in a time lapse, but I guess somewhere along, I put them all on the backburner while editing my “real” photos from the trip. So I recently got back to them and started the long process of putting it all together.

I did some initial processing in Aperture and then exported all the images as JPGs in their original size. Then I stitched each time lapse sequence in Quicktime and then brought them into Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, where I fixed any flicker issues I had and applied some pans and zooms.

It ended up taking me about two weeks or so to put everything together, but a lot of that time was spent applying adjustments to 30,000 photos in Aperture and then exporting them out, and also rendering in Premiere. (However, I do want to say that Premiere blows Final Cut Pro out of the water! Can’t believe what I’ve been missing!)

At any rate… here it is! If you go to the video’s page on Vimeo, you can read some more details about it. I hope you enjoy, and thanks for watching!

EuroLapse from David Smith on Vimeo.

Underwater photos of my friend's kids

One of my best friends and his family stopped by Atlanta the other day on their way home to Colorado from Florida. I got a chance to hang out with his kids at the pool and I figured it was a great opportunity to play around with my Ikelite underwater housing for my D7000. 

I had a blast! The kids obviously didn’t need any direction… they just played around, jumping into the pool, which made for some hilarious facial expressions underwater. I forgot to bring my mask with me to the pool, so I had to shoot blindly, but it was surprisingly easy with the ergonomics of the housing. 

Underwater housings are pretty pricy, but if you ever get a chance to shoot with one (maybe a friend has one?), I’d definitely recommend it. Looking forward to playing with this some more!

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Zoo Atlanta

Yesterday, we took Inna’s mother to Zoo Atlanta. I haven’t been in about three years. We strolled around for a couple of hours and I took some casual photos. Tested out the D800 with some high ISOs in the indoor reptile exhibit. The resulting noise wasn’t too bad.

The zoo itself is pretty nice, although a lot of the big guys (lions, gorillas, giraffes) were too far away or hidden. Nevertheless, a fun day at the zoo.

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Spring Snow in Lithuania

Back again to Lithuania for two weeks. I’ve been wanting to go during the winter to see Vilnius covered with a blanket of snow, but I’ve also been warned about the ridiculously frigid temperatures. But I got very lucky with this trip. Apparently, the weather had been pretty nice just before we arrived. A few days after we got there, a big snowstorm came rolling through and dumped about 4-5 inches on us. And all this without any crazy minus temps.

We actually got a small little dusting of snow a few days before the bigger storm came through. This photo was taken in the backyard of Inna’s mom’s house in Lentvaris, just outside of Vilnius.

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The day of the snowstorm, we were running about Vilnius taking care of some errands. The snow started getting pretty heavy, so we headed home. I got these shots in the small town of Lentvaris.

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It snowed all night and I really wanted to go down to Vilnius to take some shots of the city, so we headed down there in the morning. Unfortunately, since it was kind of a warmer spring snow, it didn’t stick all that well and melted fairly quickly when the sun broke out. But we still got to walk around Vilnius for a few hours, including a trip to the top of Gediminas Tower to get some nice views.
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On our way home, we stopped by Trakai, which is another small town outside of Vilnius. It’s famous for its lakes and the Trakai Island Castle. A lot of the snow had already melted by this time, but it was still a beautiful sight.

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I’m really glad I got to see Lithuania with some snow this time. I’m even happier that it wasn’t minus 20 degrees!

Now, it’s off to Vegas next week to get married. I’m sure I’ll have something to post after that trip!

Three Days in NYC

I’ve been wanting to get back to New York for a while now, and we recently had a nice opportunity to go, so we spent a few days up there. We left last Wednesday and spent three nights at the wonderful little Ink48 hotel. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous the day we arrived. I really wanted to watch the sunset from under the Brooklyn Bridge, so we headed over there about an hour before it went down. We stayed there for a while and then walked across the bridge once it got dark. The wind completely died down and it was amazing. I’ve never walked across it before and it blew my mind. It was so beautiful up there. 

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Starving, we made our way down to Chinatown and had some late night dumplings at the Wonton Garden. 

The next morning, we went up to the top of Rockefeller Center. The visibility wasn’t that great, but it was still an awesome view and I got a nice shot of foggy Manhattan. 

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Afterwards, we had lunch at Rock Center Cafe and then watched some ice skating. 

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We spent the rest of the afternoon just aimlessly wandering and doing a little shopping. We made our way over to Yakitori Totto, which is my favorite restaurant in NYC. It’s an authentic Japanese yakitori joint and the food is amazing. However, it’s tiny and if you don’t get there early enough, you’ll definitely be waiting for a bit.

The next day, we strolled through Central Park and hit up Rockefeller again for an attempt at a sunset shot. But the visibility was horrible and you could barely even see the Empire State Building. We watched all the high school kids ice skating for a bit before heading back to our hotel to meet a friend for some drinks. Ink48 has an awesome rooftop lounge with one of the best unobstructed views of Manhattan. 

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Our last day was St. Patty’s Day. Of course, we wanted to check out the parade, so we walked over to 5th Ave, but there were so many people we could hardly see anything. Got some street food for lunch and found a spot in Times Square to eat and chill for a while. It was definitely a strange experience that day. We really felt like we were thrown into a Jersey Shore episode. I didn’t think those people really existed in such numbers, but there was a green Snookie on every corner. Scary stuff.

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After our interesting Jersey-leprechaun experience, we cabbed it to LaGuardia and caught our flight back home. When boarding the flight, I asked our captain if he would allow me to shoot a time-lapse out my window from gate to gate. He was totally cool with it, so I used my Gorillapod and propped it up on the armrest. Didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but I will probably edit it and post it soon anyways. 

All in all, had a wonderful trip to NYC. Love that place and hope to go back again this winter!

A Weekend in The Great Smokies

Last weekend, we took a short road trip from Atlanta up to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Some friends of ours invited us up to a cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains, so we spent the weekend up there exploring the scenery, grilling out, and drinking some bacon vodka

Normally, the drive to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is just over four hours, but we opted for the scenic route on 441 that took us straight through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and got us there in about six hours. It’s a gorgeous drive and I highly recommend it, opposed to the highway route through Knoxville. We stopped about four or five times to check out the views, which is why it took us an extra two hours or so. 

We had a short but fun hike to Laurel Falls one day and got about a half-day of skiing in on another. And by “skiing,” I mean standing off to the side watching crazy out-of-control people flying down the slopes screaming “I… can’t… stoooopp!!” Definitely not the kind of skiing I’m used to after having lived in Colorado for seven years. Man, these people do not know how to ski up there!

It was a short weekend, but we had a great time just relaxing in a beautiful cabin. If you haven’t been to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, I definitely recommend it. Lots of fun up there!

Oh, and sorry to all those other cabins around us for practicing our Bigfoot calls all night long. Hope we didn’t keep you awake. 

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Weekend in Paradise

Inna and I have made trips to the Bahamas for two years in a row, including an engagement trip just about a year ago. And with my mom’s birthday being yesterday, we decided to bring her along this time for a birthday present, making this our third year in a row to Paradise Island.

We flew in direct from Atlanta on Friday morning and strolled around the property a bit, checking out the beautiful aquarium they have. We then walked down to the beach for a while and then, of course, headed to the casino where we proceeded to get our arses kicked.

We really didn’t do a whole lot while we were down there. Just ate, gambled, and hit the beach. Had some crappy weather on Saturday, but Sunday was gorgeous and we got lucky with a beautiful sunset. 

I really love this place. If you can get down there, do it. The property is enormous and beautiful, and despite being cut off from the main land, there’s actually quite a bit to do there. It’s a great place to visit, whether you have kids or not. 

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Happy Birthday, Sis!

This is a little something I made for my sister for her birthday. She saw something similar online recently and wanted me to replicate it. Got a custom mat made for it and it turned out quite nice!

One Week in Munich

Earlier this month, Inna had to travel to Munich for a few days for some meetings, so we decided to make it a week-long excursion and I would tag along, exploring the city while she was stuck in offices all day. Fair trade, no?

We departed Atlanta on a Saturday evening and arrived in Munich on Sunday. We spent the first couple of days wandering around the city, taking in some sights and consuming lots of wienerschnitzel and sausages. And beer. Big, blisfful steins of beer. 

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After spending the day checking out the castle and the village below, we made our way back to Munich and took a flight home first thing in the morning. It had been a while since my last trip to Germany, but I was reminded once again why I love that country so much. You can’t go wrong with the food, the city of Munich itself is gorgeous and historical (like anywhere else in Europe), and the people were incredibly kind. It’s definitely a city we could see ourselves living in and hopefully we’ll make our way back there soon.

Europe Trip 2011, Part Two

After our trip to London, Amsterdam, and Paris, we returned to Lithuania to relax for a few days and start planning our second side trip. We decided we wanted to see Scandinavia, so we booked tickets to Stockholm. We would spend three nights there, three in Copenhagen, three more in Helsinki, and then round out our trip with another three nights in Riga. We wanted to visit Norway, but we figured it would require a separate trip on its own just to see all the fjords. 

So off we went to Sweden. Now let me say, I’ve been to quite a few major Western European cities before. London, Paris, and Rome have always been my favorite. But I was completely blown away by Stockholm. The history, the architecture, the layout of the city, the people, the food… all amazing. I can’t say one bad thing about that city. Well, except for a really crappy Mexican restaurant called Taco Bar that we made the mistake of trying. (Yes, I know… but tacos sounded amazing at the time!) 

Regardless of our bad Swedish-Mexican experience, Stockholm, in my opinion, is the most underrated major city in all of Europe. It’s definitely a place I wouldn’t mind moving to. 

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Don’t get me wrong. Copenhagen is a lovely city. It just seemed a bit dirtier and didn’t quite have that “wow factor.” But we still had a blast and I got some nice shots of the Nyhavn waterfront, where a lot of cafes and pubs are located. 

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We took a short ferry ride to Suomenlinna, an 18th century island fortress just ten minutes from Helsinki’s port, and spent all day there. Not a whole lot to do in Helsinki, but it was still a beautiful city to explore.

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We were blown away by the beautiful architecture in Riga. Old Town felt like some kind of fake city built by Disney. The food was quite good and the cheap prices made everything even better.

Funny little story: The hotel we stayed at (Opera Hotel) was right across the street from a movie theatre, so one afternoon we decided to see X-men: First Class. Now, Latvia’s second official language is Russian. So being that the movie was in English, both Latvian and Russian subtitles were provided. “No problem,” I thought. The movie’s in English. Well, little did I know, half of that damn movie is in French, German, and Russian. Inna ended up having to translate the Russian subtitles to me in English just so I could understand what was going on. 

Even better… once we got back to Lithuania, we decided to see Planet of the Apes. Same deal. Half of that movie is in sign language with Lithuanian subtitles. Awesome. 

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London, Amsterdam, Paris, & Vilnius via iPhone

On May 24th, we set out to Lithuania to set up home base for about three months. From there, we’ve decided to take some side trips to travel parts of Europe. Our first side trip took us to London, Amsterdam, then train to Paris and back to Vilnius. We just booked a week-long excursion to Greece and we’re currently trying to plan a Scandinavian trip as well. 

These are just some random shots taken with my iPhone over the last few weeks, in chronological order. 

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Behind the scenes of my time-lapse video, "Destination"

I’ve played around with time-lapse in the past, but I’ve never put together an entire video. So while I was in Destin, Florida for a few weeks, I decided to give it a go. 

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Shooting the time-lapse itself was a blast. I decided to make it a tilt shift video, so it was fun to try and find subjects to shoot that might look good as miniatures. Unfortunately, some of the angles weren’t ideal for tilt shift, and some of the shots were too close up to the people, so they didn’t quite look as miniature as I wanted. 

I think my favorite shots are the single anchored boat and the woman sitting by herself on the pier. That lady looked a little down, and she definitely had some things on her mind, so it was kind of interesting to watch her sitting there. 

In all, I think I had about 13,000 stills that I took that day. Obviously, I didn’t use a lot of them for this video. Some had horrible flickering issues, some had bad angles, and others just didn’t make for good tilt shift shots. Speaking of which, the sequences from the boat ride were also some of my favorite, but obviously were not tilt shift. I ended up taking a shot every second, not knowing how long it was going to take us to get to our destination, but it ended up being way too many shots. So I had to set the time lapse for 30fps and I still ended up cutting out about 75% of that entire boat ride. 

The flickering was my biggest issue while editing this in post. I couldn’t figure out a good way to solve this issue, and after reading a ton of tutorials and reviews on deflicker plug-ins, I came across a solution. It wasn’t the quickest way to solve this problem, but it did help a lot. A gentleman named Chris on the timescapes.org forum wrote up a Photoshop script. I tried it out and it worked pretty well for most of my sequences with flicker, but not all. However, I will say that I probably didn’t use it to its fullest potential, so it may work even better than it did for me (I was in a rush because I wanted to get this done before I left Atlanta for three months to go to Europe). So here’s a link to the thread with the deflicker script. Make sure you read the entire thread because there are multiple versions of this script available for download, each one an improvement on the previous one. 

At any rate, I had a blast making this video. I know I probably missed some steps somewhere, either while shooting or in post, but I’m planning on doing a lot of these in the future, so hopefully I’ll become more efficient and put out better quality in the end. I hope you guys enjoy this one and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions on how I could’ve done something better. Thanks for watching!

(By the way, the gallery above are frame grabs from the video itself, so apologies for the quality. The uncompressed still shots were actually pretty nice.)

Countdown to Lithuania: T-12 hours

In approximately twelve hours, I’ll be taking off for Lithuania for almost three months. Well, homebase is Lithuania, but we’ll be hopping around different parts of Europe all summer. I’ve packed up so much gear, I’m not sure if they’ll let me on the plane. If any of you have some suggestions of places to shoot while in Lithuania, please let me know!

Project Travel-As-Much-As-I-Can-This-Year, Part Two… here we go!

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