#little planet time-lapse techniques

[my response to a new friend, Aja, who asked about the concept of my little planet photos, amongst other conversation]

that’s awesome! i wish i was raised spiritual.. i had to work through indoctrination and other limiting beliefs/views from my family :) it’s funny to see so many of them still there, and how it’s causing them to continue old ways.

that’s a great way to look at it.. yes, it feels like that to me too.. as our vibration/energy increases by doing what we love, everything flows much more smoothly

i haven’t really thought about one specific concept for the little planet photos.. i’ve written and explored a lot of various perspectives, some related to the images, some not.. (you can look for the “writing” tag/link on my website if you’re interested though there’s a lot of other stuff to filter through) it feels like all of my work is somehow related to exploring perspectives, wider or more expansive ways of seeing the world, and exploring perception itself. they are all metaphors for one to expand one’s own awareness to higher levels to be able to understand this inter-connectedness of everything, and to be able to discover one’s own spirituality, the divine, god, one’s higher self, the inner teacher, oneness, whatever you want to call this higher perspective/understanding/awareness of this experience we call life. it feels like part of the exploring perspectives with various techniques and pushing the envelope, so to speak, is to subtly or subconsciously get others to feel more open about seeing the world, both their own world/life and the collective world around us, in new ways. as one learns to expand one’s own awareness and perspectives about aspects of one’s own life, the self-limiting beliefs and viewpoints fade away.. as enough of these disappear, it’s like polishing a lens, and the discovery of the infinite and one’s connection to one’s source becomes crystal clear. yes it could take a while and this journey is longer for some than others, though.. i’m starting to get off track here :) but essentially yes, the work is about all of this. before i even knew i was on a spiritual path or journey many years ago, these sort of messages were coming to me, and i can see this unfolding in my photography as part of my own journey. i think it all started off by me just exploring and having fun and getting interested in it and seeing where it would go.. and it took me on an adventure!

i could ramble/flow on much more about all of this.. i love engaging and getting lost in deep conversations about this sort of thing :)

have you had any brilliant moments of higher awareness, connection, knowing, etc in your life that really stand out, or any truly defining moments related to your own understanding/spirituality?

thanks! back to the second part of your question about the images.. while there is the underlying message of expanding perspectives, yes, part of it is for one’s own interpretation, as one must expand one’s own viewpoints in order to come to one’s own experiential understanding and knowing. just as one can read all one wants though the intellectual understanding won’t be anything like the actual knowing or doing, and one’s own experience will be different based upon one’s previous experiences and perspectives, this aspect exists in the work too.. it can mean subtly or vastly different things to different people, and that’s totally fine. just as how we all perceive this world differently and even upon awakening to great profound experiences, it’s likely to be a little different for everyone.. so i’m not going to say my work only means one exact thing :) so i suppose the simple answer to your question is both, all of the above, some of the above, and perhaps none of the above for some :)

i recall when i first encountered little planet photos and started researching how to create them, it was after i was awakening to new understandings and perspective shifts of what was going on in my own life. [the short story: i had gone through a lot after attempting to start a new business venture unlike anything i had done before and it wasn’t working out, and i had become more aware of spirituality and really began to step back and look at what i was doing with my life and what really mattered to me at the time] after coming up with a way to somewhat easily be able to create a lot of little planet photos with minimal gear (at the time, now it’s much easier), i decided to really embrace the technique and that’s practically all i shot when i was exploring for a few days on a trip. i forget exactly when, though probably at some point early during the trip after going to a lot of beautiful spots in nature, the idea came to me of how awesome it’d be to do little planet time-lapses as i don’t believe they had been done before (likely due to limited technology and technique at the time). as i was limited with the gear i had with me at the time, i stood for an hour literally walking around in a circle around the monopod i had the camera on taking 4 shots for each still frame of the time-lapse, and i had a proof of concept. from there, when i got back home, ideas came to me of how to solve the technical issues of having the tripod not show up in the shot and being able to automate the process so i could have precisely aligned images to work with, and not have to walk around in a circle every time for an hour :) i’m not sure exactly where this is all taking me, but it feels like it relates to what you said and i agreed with in the beginning.. i was getting really excited about this new technique or idea and jumping all in on it, fully embracing it, and that enthusiasm sparked the creativity and being able to take it to the next level. it feels like this is part of the underlying message too by exploring so many different ways of seeing. the divine is working in subtle aspects to hint at those seeing the work to be able to engage in what really drives them. when people have come up to me when i’ve done kite aerial photography or they saw me in my truck camper or something, and i got really excited talking about it (because i was really was excited to be doing what i was doing at the moment), i could feel and see their perspectives/energy shifting and opening up. they likely wouldn’t ever have any interest in actually doing kite aerial photography but that enthusiastic energy flowing through me of what i was feeling might be just what they needed to make them feel better or inspire them to be able to do what they want (or feel called to). perhaps that’s what my work is about, inspiration

wow, so that was a bit long, hope you enjoy the chapter i wrote :) and thank you for the inspiration that came to me by asking! i think i’m gonna post this as one of my writings on my website/journal (only the part i just wrote, not your message)

..

oh and i just realized i had forgotten how i was originally going to relate that last part.. [it seems i’ve allowed the flow of inspiration to be a little affected by the continuous loud noise of lots of lawn care equipment all around my condo complex at the moment.. though sometimes we just need to let go and surrender in order to remember] i feel that part of the reason i discovered the little planet look (where you effectively see in all directions) and invented a way to be able to take this to another level (by creating time-lapses with the look) was because of where i was in my own spiritual journey.. as i began to become interested in learning about higher levels of awareness and perspectives such as oneness, i naturally attracted/created/manifested/aligned with a photographic technique that could illustrate this way of perceiving/understanding/knowing..

over the years since i first posted my little planet timelapses online, i’ve received a number of inquiries as to how they were made (as its a very unique look and i believe i was the first to create them).

the first step is to gather the series of equirectangular images.

back in 2009 when i first came across the little planet look and started shooting time-lapses of these, cameras that shot all the data in one image and at [...]

After landing in Hawaii for the first time and running around shooting little planet stills around the island while testing/tweaking my technique (as I had just begun experimenting with the little planet stereographic projection look a week before my trip), I thought the next thing to do would be to create a time-lapse video as it’d look pretty amazing (and it had never been done before). Here’s my first attempt at manually creating it.. This is raw, unedited and unfinished.. […]

 

here’s a shorter version of the december 2015 time-lapse video i posted the other day..

i was asked by Udi of diyphotography.net to write about how this was made so i will explore some of it below. i did write a bit about the technique and idea the other day when i posted the long version of the time-lapse. you can check the film and writing out at:

most of the shots in both films were created with either [...]

i put this playlist together yesterday [2015.05.18] though will likely update it as i create more. the individual time-lapse videos are in chronological order by the date shot, starting with the first ones i made back in early 2009 [shortly after i first discovered the little planet look, figured out how to do the whole technique, and then naturally thought it’d be awesome to do a time-lapse video with this technique as no one had done so yet]

this technique has gotten tremendously easier since i got a ricoh theta camera last year. it no longer takes many days just to stitch and process the images, nor the need to carry many pounds of heavy equipment that has to be precisely aligned [which also required a large, heavy case to be carried in and a heavy duty tripod to be mounted on]. now, a small camera that fits in my pocket, my iPhone, and something to mount the camera on [which can also fit in my pocket] is all that’s needed, and the most difficult part of the image processing is done automatically! the only downfall is that the image quality is a bit less than using my custom rig, though it still yields good results and allows for shots that could not have been done with the other gear, such as the aerial shot where the camera was hanging from the kite line as i walked for miles on the beach [or a driving shot that i have yet to process, which reminds me there are also a few other 360×180 little planet time-lapses i’ve shot that i have not yet created as of the time i’m writing this].

due to the way the youtube embed works with playlists that have different aspect ratio videos, some clips may be cropped a little bit. use this link to see the entire playlist directly on youtube: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYlEKn8xkNmW3bOSwai0v6bu3cFPmaK23

 

here’s my latest masterpiece… err, well, really more of an experimental, proof of concept piece than a so-called “masterpiece”. there are some places where this could be better and i could continue to refine this though i’ve decided to leave it as it is. technically, there are a few errors due to buggy software [adobe photoshop, ffmpeg, and quicktime player pro all seemed unable to support the size of this project.. it was 18361 still images with the final tiff files taking over a terabyte of space before rendering the 4k uhd 2160p video], colors could be improved, the time-lapse film/movie/video could be edited down to something shorter, some of the little planets could be centered better, etc, etc, though part of the concept behind all of my work is to expand perspectives [and after working on putting this together for weeks, i’m finally calling it done, at least for now]. so many of us seek perfection, especially technical perfection in the photographic, or lens-based arts, and yes very beautiful works can be created with enough effort, though this same quest for perfection can drive one insane and keep pushing one further into the mind, and the mind’s desire/need for perfection (or need for more/better/newer/faster/etc). the underlying message in my work is to let go of one’s own self-limitations. let go of what no longer serves you. expand your mind, your viewpoint, your self, to new limits. when letting go of the limitations of the mind, one will discover a whole new reality in this experience called life. one will discover a deep sense of peace amidst the chaos. life truly happens outside of the mind and its attachments/desires. step outside of yourself. expand your way of seeing the world, your self, others, and life to a new level. there is beauty everywhere, we just need to learn to see it. and it’s done by letting go rather than struggling, striving, and yearning for more and more. when letting go, inspiration easily comes to you. in this place of silence, from a deeper place of silence, ideas and feelings emerge.

just like the idea for this. i don’t recall exactly where it all started, though many years ago when i first created little planet time-lapses (which, at the time, had never been done before), i thought taking it to the next level.. it’d be neat to see them in motion — where the camera actually moves physical positions, not just virtually altering the perspective of the little planet time-lapse video as i had done. i shot at least a couple with my old rig years ago (that i never completed), and now with newer technology, a year ago i was able to create an aerial 360×180 degree little planet time-lapse in motion by hanging a ricoh theta camera off of a kite and walking for miles with it at honeymoon island. back in 2014, i had shot little planets with the ricoh theta suction cup mounted to the moonroof of a car, or holding it up on a monopod out the window while driving (at very low speeds). however in most of these shots, the car took up too much of the frame. i knew that elevating the camera higher would make the car smaller in the frame/planet though didn’t have a safe means to do so. somehow the idea came to me to get a short extension to make the camera sit higher above the suction cup [it’s funny how this happens as i don’t recall exactly what i was looking for, though inspiration, or divine guidance sometimes, takes us on these long tangents and you seemingly ‘randomly’ stumble upon something that triggers something else and then an idea comes which leads to another, etc, etc, and you end up creating what you’re creating]. anyhow, that first attempt still didn’t give me what i was looking for so i ended up researching and creating the rig that let me do the shots where it looks like you’re looking straight down on the car from a bird’s eye view as its driving on the little planet. there were a number of unknowns in doing so as this is something that i don’t think has ever been done before. [it’s funny as this is where the ego/mind would want to shout out that it was the first one to think of or create something new, unique, or to a further extreme/record, though there’s really a higher and more important message here] i’ve never seen this specific look done nor heard of anyone mounting a camera so high above a moving car (except with a large custom fabricated system like on the google maps car that’s likely quite expensive). sometimes you’ve got to just trust where life is taking you. my car is still pretty new and i didn’t want any part of the rig to come undone while driving and cause damage, though by learning to listen to and trust one’s intuition or inspiration (and perhaps balanced with a bit of logic and analysis in research and development), one can invent new things and take one’s art to a new level. when i was determining what gear i was getting to create the car rig, the idea came to me of using the components in a different manner to get the shots where you see the front of the car (from a lower angle) driving on the little planet. [and the idea of the car driving around the planet came to me a long time ago.. though at the time i would’ve had to shoot it as a time-lapse (and either push the car or drive and stop for one frame of the shot every 5 seconds) before getting the camera that was able to shoot it as a video now. i’m grateful for technology continuing to expand and make creating images with specific looks much simpler]

things don’t have to be so complex either. start small, or work in small increments, and you can do something big. with the car rig shots, i drove quite slow during the first shots (both to make sure the rig held up before incrementally driving a little faster with it, and to have more shots in the time-lapse as the minimum interval timer setting available on the camera was not ideal). a lot of this is common sense and one who has done something similar before will see this as a simple, effective, logical way to approach creating something, though i realize, and have seen, that not everyone thinks of this sort of technical approach when creating something or trying something new. it really seems to be about a balance between feeling and thinking, between inspiration and logic, just like photography is a balance between science and art — one could get by with either approach, though when combining both, one can create (and live) in new ways.

this balance, or way of understanding both/all sides, is part of the whole underlying message of expanding perspectives. by being able to see, understand, and feel one way or the other, one can remove limitations in one’s life. spiritually, or philosophically (or whatever you want to call it) looking at this, it’s more of a non-dualistic approach. as we learn to transcend the limitations of duality, we embrace oneness. in oneness, we see that everything is connected and there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, and no separation. everything is part of the whole, and needs to exist in order for us to have this experience we call life. without up we cannot know what down is. without good or something we desire, we cannot know what bad or something we resist is. these dualistic perspectives give us the ability to experience life from a single viewpoint or perspective of separation, though as we learn to understand the whole, and see everything/everyone as connected and somehow related to everything/everyone else, new doors of perception will open to us. our current understanding through a vantage point of duality, is caused by existing and perceiving through the limitations of the mind. as we awaken and transcend the limitations of the mind, we begin to see the world as it is — before awakening, when perceiving through the mind, we are seeing a filtered world — we are not seeing it as it is — our viewpoint is clouded by programming/conditioning/judgment that we have been taught since we entered this world. we are told this is where we begin and this is where we end — anything outside of this defined endpoint is not us or ours, and anything within is us or ours. separation and conditioning is taught. the separate self, the ego, is a learned concept. yes, it is part of our current human experience, though it is also the root cause of all suffering. when we learn to see that we are all one, our lives will heal. we’ll also begin to see that there is no past or future.. these are merely concepts the separate mind has been creating. some concepts can serve us in various ways though many limit us. as we realize none of what we thought was real actually is real, we can much more easily let go of any attachment and suffering. we’ll find a place of bliss and peace when we can live fully in the present moment, in the now, and let go of thinking things need to be a certain way or cravings for what we don’t have or resistance of life circumstances we are experiencing but prefer not to. fully embrace the present moment. let go of anything that is not here and now. it is not real. your thoughts of the future, past, desires, resistances, etc, etc are only preventing you from fully living today, here and now. “carpe diem” seize the day, today and every day. do not dwell upon what is not. yes, you can vision, create, and manifest your future, though you must also let go, and surrender, to the present moment of where you are now in order for the creation to manifest. if there are any hinderances in thoughts, feelings, etc, etc preventing you from experiencing that which you desire, you will be taken through those so you may fully experience and release them and create the space for what you do desire to manifest and unfold simply in your life. the more we let go, surrender, and experience, the simpler this whole process becomes. the more we let go, the simpler life becomes. and the more we let go, the simpler it becomes to perceive and understand and fully know who we truly are (and all of the seemingly magical or mystical perceptions and understandings that come with this).

life is beautiful. live it fully. today. every day. here and now. let go. embrace. live.

step outside of yourself. awaken. become aware. understand by perceiving [what is]. grow. expand. be.

 

here are some of the locations these were shot at (all in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, Florida):

Brooker Creek Nature Preserve
Canal Park
Countryside
Crystal Beach
Davis Islands
Duke Energy Trail
Dunedin Causeway
East Lake
Ed Radice Sports Complex
Fred Howard Park
Honeymoon Island
John Chestnut Park
Keystone
Lake Chautauqua Park
Lake Dan and Lake Frances Nature Preserves
Lansbrook Golf Course
Odessa
Oldsmar
Palm Harbor
Philippe Park
Safety Harbor
Selmon Expressway