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Time-lapse video contrasts urban and rural scenes

From Montreal to Manhattan, photographer Dominic Boudreault captured picturesque cityscapes and rural retreats. The finished time-lapse video garnered nearly a million views in just over a week. 

Highlights include views of the Chicago skyline from the John Hancock building, starry nights from Quebec National Parks and the New York skyline from Rockefeller Center. 

Dominic Boudreault

New York, N.Y.: The view from the "Top of the Rock," at 30 Rockefeller Center near sunset. "What you can't see in the picture is the hundreds of people jam-packed on the observatory deck. At sunset in the summer, you have to fight your way through the crowd to get a good spot."

He attributes much of his success to preparation. After selecting a city, Boudreault scouts locations online, first looking for major landmarks, then exploring Google Maps, Flickr and other sites to get a feel for what he will see when he arrives. Once there, he uses his vision and expertise as a photographer to insert his own point of view. Boudreault talked with us about his work: 

Photographer Dominic Boudreault talks with TODAY.com's Dara Brown about the year he spent capturing images to "show the duality between big cities and nature."

Dominic Boudreault

Quebec, Canada: Grands-Jardins National Park. "The beauty of the park lies within its fire-shaped landscapes and tall mountains. When I saw that particular tree, I knew that it would be a great silhouette against the beautiful starry night."

While pursuing photography for some time as a hobby, Boudreault primarily worked as a Web designer for Quebec National Parks. Recently he was able to get a full-time job as a photographer with the parks' agency.

He has mastered the craft of time-lapse photography and is able to bring out subtle details like jets flying overhead, star trails, and boats moving across the water.

Dominic Boudreault

Chicago, IL: John Hancock Observatory. "The orange mist was a result of a very foggy winter day. Around sunset, the sky began to clear and the orange color of the mist mixed with the blue color of twilight was a real gift for a photographer like me."

Dominic Boudreault

Quebec, Canada: Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve. "After a hard day of filming, the sky was so clear and the stars so bright that I just had to try to capture the moment with my camera."

Dominic Boudreault

Toronto from the docks. "With clear skies and calm winds, you get fantastic reflections of the buildings on Lake Ontario."

How did he do it?

Inquiring minds want to know, how does a person go from a hobbyist to a producer of cinema-quality time-lapse photography? On the technical side, camera settings have a lot to do with it. Here are some tips to get you started:

-Know your camera and understand variables that create a picture (ISO, shutter speed and aperture). Many of Boudreault's compositions were shot with a relatively fast shutter speed (around 1 second). He was able to do this by using higher ISO settings and low apertures.

-Invest in a tripod. Having a firm, steady base for your camera is paramount.

-Consider buying an intervalometer. This little gadget triggers a camera shutter at a user-defined interval. It also reduces camera shake by eliminating your need to press the shutter button to trigger the camera.

-There's a lot that happens after you shoot the images. After returning from a shoot, Boudreault used Adobe Camera Raw to make fine-tuned adjustments to the images. He then processed the images using Adobe After Effects and put the video together in Apple's Final Cut Pro. Learning just one of these pieces of software can try a person's patience, but I've found that online training resources like Lynda.com can ease the pain.

For this project, Boudreault used the following gear:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Canon lenses: 14mm 2.8, 24mm 1.4, 135mm 2.0, and 70-200mm 2.8 IS
Support: Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff head

Watch Dominic's original video: Timelapse - The City Limits:


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