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City Rising

Published by Diana Tula · October 11th 2012

We believe that photographers make amazing videographers. Today's guest post is by Tom Ryaboi, whom you may already know by his “i'll make ya famous” photograph. In this post Tom shares the story behind “City Rising” video, a breath-taking time lapse of Toronto that he took while rooftopping. Enjoy the view!

When I started timelapse photography a year ago I thought it would be something I could just jump right into and master, as I've been taking stills for nearly a decade now. I was quickly humbled by the medium as I struggled to put together worthwhile footage after repeated early attempts. I soon realized this was a whole other animal.

Although timelapse sequences are composed of still images, the methods and processes needed to put together the final video are completely different. After battling with motion control gear, camera settings and aperture flicker for several months, it didn't feel like I was making any progress. I never had such a hard time capturing a vision with photos. But the more I struggled, the more I was intrigued: how do the greats like Ron Fricke do it?

Coupled with these challenges, this project involved mountain of stairs to climb, quite literally. After joking around with friends, we put together a list of buildings I shot from. Added together, they reach higher than 23,000 feet. If stacked up on top of each other, I’d be facing a hefty Himalayan mountain.

After much frustration, patience, and perseverance I finally felt that I was getting somewhere. The turning point came on Canada Day when I shot my first flawless day to night scene, albeit one that featured an overcast sky. The clip can be seen 1:30 of the video. At a certain point you can actually see some fireworks go off in the background, and that's what it felt like in my head too.

One thing that shooting a timelapse forces you to do is to look inside: after setting up your shot, there’s often not much you can do for hours, but sit up there and ponder. The relationship between the cold glass, steel and concrete below coupled with the often majestic clouds, sky and sun/moon never ceases to be a source of wonder. The purpose of what you’re doing becomes a frequent question in your mind.

With City Rising I wanted to bring others up to this perspective, and from here, show them the city as they have never seen it before — where the boundary between earth and sky is unclear and the placid beauty of the city laysspread out beneath you, quietly humming along. City Rising takes the viewer straight through rush hour traffic, to the highest urban peaks and the clouds above it all, in under four minutes.

Thanks Tom for sharing and to you for reading! To see more of Tom’s work head over to his 500px page. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Our blog is a place to promote 500px photographers. Do you have a video to share? Send us an email, we're looking forward to hear your ideas.


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andy 126 (inactive)  about 1 year ago
Awesome job Tom! Great footage, music and Title sequence!
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Okkes Kapanoglu  over 2 years ago
Good work, I like!
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Konstantinos Kouratoras  over 2 years ago
Great work!
Graham Aylard  over 2 years ago
Amazing stuff - everything about this is perfect. Very inspiring.
Hugh Núñez  over 2 years ago
Woooow, worth it!! Love it... perfect work.
Dany Novykov  over 2 years ago
Very inspiring! Brilliant work!
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Art X  over 2 years ago
great work, I'm a fan!
Jack Nobre  over 2 years ago
Amazing work, truly inspiring.
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Michael D. Ratcliff  over 2 years ago
Awesome job Tom! Great footage, music and Title sequence!
Heath Bouffard  over 2 years ago
This is absolutely amazing! What blows my mind about this, is how everything is in near perfect exposure. I have just started experimenting in some time lapse videos, and it is very difficult and time consuming to have it come out the way you would like it. Outstanding job and keep up the great work.

I would love any helpful tips if you would like to give some away. ~Cheers~

Mark Wisecarver (inactive)  over 2 years ago
Awesome! ...and that comes from someone who does not like big cities. ;-)
Ryan Tir  over 2 years ago
Impressive. I have never loved Toronto more.
Bo Lelewel  over 2 years ago
amazing work! One of the best timelapse videos I've seen so far

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