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The most stunning thing about any sunset is its amazing colors. They shift from one vibrant shade to another, growing ever bolder before fading into twilight. Photographs capture a bit of the moment, but cannot convey the beautiful transition from day to night. Dan Marker-Moore’s gorgeous time-lapse photos come pretty close though.
Marker-Moore‘s riff on time-lapse photography compresses all of the takes into a single image he calls a a “time slice.” This creates a gradient of colors, distilling sunsets (and sunrises) of up to 60 minutes or more into into one epic vista. “I love using this technique to showcase the transitions in the day, like a sun setting and city lights turning on,” he says.
To create a time slice, Marker-Moore shoots a few hundred to a few thousand frames with his Sony A7RII. Then he layers the best of them in Adobe After Effects, with each slice representing a few seconds to a few minutes. He favors vertical or diagonal slices, and may use as many as 150 in a single composite image. The trick is not to use too many, or risk softening the gradients and minimizing the impact. It takes lots of experimentation to get it right. His first attempt took a few hours—now they can take several days.
While other people have used similar techniques, Marker-Mooreal makes his time slices around the world. So far he’s shot in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C., Hong Kong, Shanghai and plans to visit Hawaii later this year. He finds his vantage points by simply wandering around and scouting a location for the most dazzling views. Weather is also key in making the perfect slice. Dark storm clouds or fog can easily muss up an otherwise perfect scene. “You have to wait for it,” he says. “Not every sunset will be spectacular.”
He shot what he considers his first “real” time slice at Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles in June, 2013. He played around with the concept a few months before when he made a collage of the moon, but the Chavez Ravine shot was the first to use “slices.” When he posted the image on Instagram, the photo racked up more than 2,000 likes, making it one of his most popular posts. Since then, he tries to make time slices on all his travels.
Marker-Moore works in motion graphics and animation, but photography is his passion. He typically spends his free time taking photos, and plans to keep making time slices. “I enjoyed time lapsing sunsets and transitions,” he says. “I wanted to share some of that change in a still photograph.”