The first time I stepped out of the Barcelona metro and saw the intricate carvings of Sagrada Familia towering above me my hair stood on end from sheer marvel. I must have taken at least a hundred photographs from every angle that day, yet almost every one failed to capture that first sense of awe the building was meant to inspire. For many travelers, I’m sure this is a familiar story.
In Europe, where nearly every urban center boasts an impressive and abundant mix of historic and contemporary architecture, this is perhaps even more true. Fortunately, most photographers are more skilled than I am and, on occasion, one will even manage to capture shots so impressive that they warrant a sense of awe in and of themselves.
A successful campaign on Kickstarter recently gave one such photographer, Luke Shepard, an opportunity to do just that, paving the way for an impressive time-lapse that shows off Europe’s most breathtaking architecture as you’ve probably never seen it.
Shepard’s recently released film, Nightvision, combines more than 20,000 photographs, carefully strung together during post-production, of some of Europe’s most impressive buildings. To get all of the shots, Shepard purchased a 90-day Eurail Pass allowing him to visit 36 cities in 21 countries. The result is an impressive and seemingly effortless time-lapse covering 27 sequences (out of 47 produced). Of course, if you are already watching the film, it’s probably apparent that the film’s ‘effortless feel’ is the result of some time-consuming, painstaking, and anything but effortless work:
“Of the locations represented in the film, the Arc de Triomphe was the most difficult to capture. To achieve this shot we had to cross a few streets and finish halfway across the Champs-Elysees! We waited until 2 in the morning when there seemed to be the least traffic. We slowly crossed each street taking a picture every few inches. Whenever cars were coming, we used chalk to mark our location and ran out of the way. The shoot became more complicated when the military guards patrolling around the monument saw us shooting in the middle of the street. They yelled to let us know this was not allowed, but we were already a couple hours into the shoot and I did not want to give up. We continued, but now we had to wait until the guards were on the opposite side of the Arc de Triomphe AND no cars were coming. This shot took over 5 hours and we finished just as dawn broke.”
Nightvision isn’t Shepard’s first foray into time-lapse photography. In 2010, while experimenting with the style of image sequencing used in Nightvision, Shepard produced a two-minute time-lapse entitled Le Flâneur, which, to his surprise, went viral in 2011 and received praise on sites including Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, and in National Geographic’s Travel section. Given the impressive scope and scale of Shepard’s shots, I’m a little less surprised.
A full list of Nightvision locations in order of appearance can be found on Shepard’s website along with other information about the time-lapse.
About Luke Shepard
Luke Shepard is a 23-year-old American born in Belgium and raised in New England. He studies film at the American University of Paris and recently began working as a professional videographer. He is on a constant quest for new experiences.
Photos and video courtesy of Luke Shepard