Spectacular Time-Lapse Born Out of 13,000 Miles and 10,000 Photos

The “quit your day job and go on the adventure you’ve always dreamed of” piece of advice is given so often as to almost be cliché. And yet, many of us are still blown away when someone actually finds the guts to do just that.

And, well, if they capture a time-lapse so gorgeous it gets National Geographic‘s attention in the process, all the better for us photography blog types.

For photographer Shane Black and two of his photographer friends, the trip began as a not-entirely-kidding-but-sorta-kidding joke. They joked amongst themselves about leaving their day jobs for a two month-long road trip right up until plans got so serious they wound up actually doing it.


On the other side of the month’s notice (and what we imagine was a bit of fear) lay a Dodge Caravan (without cruise control) and a 13,000 mile journey that included 32 states and 13 national parks.

They supported themselves financially by a combination of a Coca-Cola and Flickr sponsorship and teaching photography workshops in major cities along the way. But for Black, the work for the day didn’t stop when the other two turned in.

“Most nights I’d actually drop them off at a hotel around 10 or so, and head back out for shooting the stars until about 3 a.m.,” he tells National Geographic.


What resulted is the breathtaking time-lapse at the top, and the desire to take yet another workshop-supported trip next summer.

But don’t worry, Black isn’t returning to his old day job, which involved feeding cockroaches at the Scotts Miracle-Gro headquarters in Marysville, Ohio. No, he plans to move to the Pacific Northwest where “mountains and dark skies” await him.

(via National Geographic)

  • Sam Bendall

    my question to the guys that did this, how much money did you save up before you quit your jobs and took the plunge.

  • Renaldo

    So, any piece of crap with the Milky Way flying across the scene and a ton of neon colors makes it onto National Geographic these days?

  • Davor


  • WD

    Great imagery (albeit overly HDR at points). Crap soundtrack.

  • Dover

    Post some of your National Geographic content. We are dying to see a true master at work.

  • ljrouse

    Beautiful work, but a little over cooked on the processing.

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  • Shane Black

    Thanks for sharing, Petapixel!

  • Shane Black

    We all had a bit of money in our savings, but fortunately through the Coca-Cola and Flickr sponsoring, along with money made through the workshops, the trip was basically all funded for.

  • John C.

    Outstanding video. And the music went well with the time lapse. I’m just curious, how did you capture the stars (milky way), or were those separate images added in post processing? Whenever I did time lapses of the night sky, I would only see the streaks of the stars, nothing like what’s in your video. Just curious if you could explain, thanks.

  • zdroberts

    Bitter much?

  • Sam Bendall

    Thanks for the reply Shane, I’ve been wanting to do something like this and I think I have only a year or two left in my youth to take the chance :) you guys produced some great content. Best of luck with future endeavors.

  • Andrew Ferguson

    I don’t think it counts as ‘quit your job & follow your dreams’ if you get corporations to sponsor you; If we could all get corporate sponsorship, we’d all do this.

    Glad to see you’ve used this to make something beautiful though.

  • Eric

    You don’t think it counts that he quit his job and followed his dreams, when he did exactly that? What does it matter where the money came from, he figured out a way to do it and did it. Good for him!
    Would it have counted if he quit and pan handled for money? LOL

  • Andrew

    I’m surprised this took only 2 months to put together. It includes so many incredible scenes. You guys must have been pre-planning and thinking about doing this for ages. Congrats !
    Ignore the haters – they are generally armchair-critics who don’t realize the how painstaking (but rewarding) all the effort is.

  • Chillywilson

    Alien abduction at 1:42 middle screen?

  • chrismid259

    I was thinking the same.

  • chrismid259

    Amazing video. Great depth in most of the shots too.

  • edper

    Pretty outstanding for me.great work

  • Oliver Umrel

    How did you achieve the slow camera movement? On such a time scale it had to move really slowly which I think would have been impossible to do smoothly by hand.

  • Mandara Wiwczaruk

    Pull that stick out of your arse Renaldo. Do better and you may make such a irrational comment and be taken seriously.

  • Shane Black

    Thanks, Sam! I hope that you can find some time to get out and do some exploring!

  • Shane Black

    Thanks, John! Every shot is from single exposure images, except for the shot at 2:09-2:12 (the original was far too grainy, so that shot was created similar to a cinemagraph, where a stacked photo of the sand dunes was masked out from the moving Milky Way. But all other night shots are just the result of exceptionally dark locations, ISO 3200, 15 second exposure, and a 24mm lens at f1.8

  • Shane Black

    I think it counts. The money from the corporate sponsors didn’t cover the entire trip and I’m currently sitting here without the safety net of my old job to fall back on after the trip was over.

  • Pixamundo

    That is pretty spectacular. Congrats! Now I am looking forward to the “Making of” video. BTW, keep me posted on those workshops. Cheers!

  • katarina premfors

    It really is a beautiful world. Fantastic.

  • eish

    Bravo Shane – amazing footage!! What cameras did you use to shoot with? Was a GoPro used in any of the scenes?

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