The World’s First Sunset Hyperlapse from an Airplane

Update: The original version of this post quoted a flight attendant in the intro, when it was in fact the author’s girlfriend who made the remark that he was annoying people. This was an editorial mistake on our part, and has been fixed.

“The sound of your shutter clicking is annoying the people around you.” said my girlfriend, sitting next to me. “I know,” I replied “I don’t care at the moment, I’m shooting some crazy unique footage!”

Last week I was lucky enough to shoot the world’s first sunset hyperlapse sequence from an airplane, here’s how I did it.

Let me start off by saying that cinema-productions have been shooting similar looking footage for years, the difference here however is that I shot this footage using the hyperlapse technique that’s been making the rounds on the Internet for the past two years or so.

A hyperlapse is a special photography technique where you take a series of photos with similar framing while physically moving in between every shot. After stabilizing the footage with special software, you (quite literally in this case) create a flight through time and space. Because you’re shooting at a slower framerate than the usual 24/25/30 frames per second, the rendered video will show the world in fast-forward.

Another advantage: as I’m shooting stills (not video), I’m able to create Ultra High Definition video files, with resolutions greater than 5K.


Last week I was about to fly back from Coolangata airport (Gold Coast, Australia) to Sydney when I noticed the sun was about to set with some great cloud coverage. Knowing that I’d have a big chance of shooting some great stills, I loaded up my Canon 5D MkIII with a fresh battery and two empty memory cards, ready to shoot. Lens of choice was the Canon 24-105L, great focal range and incredibly useful built-in stabilization.

During take-off I could see beautiful ‘God rays’ forming (sunlight shooting through the clouds, creating golden rays of light) and got very excited! A few minutes later, I ended up with the photo above. (Have a look at the full gallery of stills here).

But this was only the beginning.

Twenty minutes later, the clouds were looking great from 30,000 feet up in the air, and I decided to try out some hyperlapse sequences by setting my camera to Drive-mode, and shooting continuous stills. What I was able to shoot next was unique, and incredibly exciting to capture.

I had just shot a number of cloud sequences where you can actually see the light changing gradually, as the sun was getting closer and closer towards the edge of the clouds at the horizon, when the plane angled itself towards the setting sun. Lucky me! Right when the climax was about to happen, I was able to compose a frame where the planes wing wasn’t visible, and I had a clear line of sight of the sun going down.


Holding the camera very, very still, controlling my breathing and annoying everyone around me with my fast paced shutter firing off dozens of shots, I knew I was in the process of capturing a world’s first! Without bothering you further with text, enjoy this unique video.

About the author: Matthew Vandeputte is a film editor and timelapse/hyperlapse photographer based out of Sydney, Australia. He is available worldwide for (music) festivals, events, corporate videos or any other project that requires unique imagery. To see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. This article was originally published here.

  • Mak Wa

    The title should be re-worded to “The World’s First Sunset Hyperlapse from an Airplane, Using a Canon 5D Mark III (Over the Gold Coast in Australia)”

  • Dan Marker-Moore

    I’ve done plenty of aerial sunset “hyper lapses”…. definitely not worlds first, maybe petapixel’s first

  • jamacanmecrazy

    The title should read “The world’s not first sped up footage from a plane with no cloud movement to indicate a hyperlapse.” Something like that. Over hyped and underwhelming. Sorry.

  • greenarcher02

    “with similar framing while physically moving in between every shot”

    Not so much movements of the clouds… but the movement of the whole plane (not the airplane). You know, it really doesn’t take that much brain cells to stop dissing other people and learn context.

  • harumph

    I watched the video before reading what a “hyperlapse” was (never heard of it before), and my thought was, “Looks like a really jerky video.” And the very last sunset shot was the only one that gave the slightest hint of the time lapse effect. I guess I don’t get it. The footage is worse than what you would have gotten by just shooting video.

    …And you wouldn’t have annoyed anybody.

  • harumph

    His point is that there is no timelapse effect because the only thing moving is the plane.

  • greenarcher02

    It probably would have been a long video, hence a larger file. And some people just aren’t used to video, for some reason.

  • greenarcher02

    The sun was moving.. Yeah, it was a little underwhelming. Too short. Not enough movement in the clouds but you have to admit, the sun did look nice at one point.

  • regatta elratta

    thankfully the plane didn’t go down as badly as this post did :P

  • Opie

    Petapixel has really become the bastion for those who, through willful ignorance of greater context, have made the decision that they’re perennially on the cutting edge.

    Why should the author bother finding out if anyone else has done this before? That would just disrupt his satisfying assertion that, as far as is concerned the narrow scope of photographers whose blogs he follows, he’s the first one to figure this out.

    Crazy unique footage, guys.

  • Franky

    Get a Pentax K-3 – no one would hear your shutter ;)

  • Chop Chop1

    SOOOOOO many experts on this site in general. So many armchair experts with comments that have nothing to do with the stories, even worse experts who comment without even reading the full story, most of you only seem to view the image/images and then comment. If all you experts are as good as you all seem to be let’s see some of your work published here. Well done PetaPeixel keep up the interesting and varied stories.

  • Michael Palmer

    That’s it?

  • Chris Sandiford

    Glad I was’t the only person who thought this was nothing special. Not sure the technique works on something that is already moving. There is no sense of fast forward til the sun drops.

  • Renato Murakami

    Stills looks great! The hyperlapse… not so much. Guess it’s one of those cases where the technique doesn’t match the subject much.

  • sheckie

    I’m more curious about how he got such clear shots through a commercial airline window.

  • Andrea

    After reading such an obnoxious article the quality of the video or skills used bared no relevance.

  • slvrscoobie

    5DIII has silent shutter mode for up to 3fps. Its really quiet. Obviously if you were ‘annoying’ people, it wasnt set on that cause even during a wedding, its not loud enough to hear.

  • Cemal Ekin

    Whoppeee! This too shall pass as the ugly HDR mania did (thankfully!)

  • Opie

    Is Petapixel actively deleting comments now? Early this morning there were 19, last time I checked there were 18, and now there are 16. I know for a fact that mine was among them.

    I was under the impression that the editors of this site appreciated our feedback regarding the material posted. I guess that policy only covers reviews of the glowing variety. The deleted comments were not particularly inflammatory, but apparently, if you take issue with something, you can keep your opinion to yourself.

  • kat

    Ermm i’ve done something like this myself so defo not the first just the first to be on here .. I like it tho x

  • Eric Pare


  • Viktor

    Sooo, you´ve used photo instead of video becouse “f the people around me, I´m an artist”??? No use of the greater dynamic range of RAW files in post, no long time pass (those sequences are not longer than 10-15 mins each), 5k resolution to get the “great” detail in plain sky and puffy clouds… seriously? Thank you very much for encouraging companies to forbid camera usage on board for all of us, becouse you think the comfort of other people is meaningless compared to your world´s first “look how many photos my memory card can handle” jerk art project. Sorry for the hater comment, but that is so disrespectful and lame that I didn´t found other words.

  • brob

    so this person annoyed the crap out of everyone else around him for what is a pretty lack luster piece. congratulations for making the rest of us photographers look like asses.

  • Mr Hogwallop

    Ah the lame response of “show me some of your work”. So if I can’t make a better moive, build a better car or write better lines of code I cannot comment on other’s work? Bull. If the worlds first hyperlapse looked like the first shot with the wing and ground and sun it would have been 100% more interesting. So it’s not the worlds first and the flight attendant didn’t commnt. What other “errors” are there yet to be corrected ;^)

  • tmronin

    just a heads up – i said the same exact thing yesterday (lame piece, photographers looking like jerks to the general public) and my comment got deleted (among others).

  • David Drufke

    Was the author really bragging about being an ass on an airplane? The “god rays” photo is pretty awesome, but I have to agree with the majority of the commenters about the video.

  • Morgan Glassco

    I’m surprised he didn’t get flagged as a terrorist and the flight had to land early. Oh wait, it wasn’t in America. Continue.

  • guest

    Yeah… really as others have pointed out, this has been done many times before. But keep telling yourself you did a “Worlds first” there buddy ha ha. Peta Pixel really comes off as clueless with this article.

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Me too. WTF with deleting non-spam/trolling comments?

  • Molto Bene

    I was banned last year for making critical comments on articles even worse than this one. I was astounded. Petapixel seems hell bent on half-ass moderating, turning this place into a click-bait hug box.

    I honestly wonder if people pay them to post articles here, and then get angry when people are critical. That might explain the incredibly wild range of content quality and attention to detail.

  • Sucks to suck

    Haha, flamebait fail.

  • harumph

    Yeah, I’ve had critical, but inoffensive comments deleted too. Yet the racist trolling comments don’t get deleted. Go figure.

  • Gatot Jaka Timur

    Just use the Video recorder mode instead of clicking it thousand of times. The effect will be alot better than those shot you took

  • dimidi

    Did you shot an unsuccessful aerial timelapse?
    No worries, call it a hyper(duper) lapse and send it to PetaPixel, you’re gonna win the world’s first record for the biggest aerial tu*d ever…

  • Cemal Ekin

    You are deleting comments you do not like, this too will likely disappear. I simply said “Whoppeee, this too shall pass like the ugly HDR fad.” What was wrong with that? You need not be that insecure. I am not hiding my name, I stand behind what I say. This was not the first time my comment was deleted. Let’s see if this will survive your censor.

  • dimidi

    Have you shot an unsuccessful aerial timelapse?
    No worries, call it a
    hyper(duper) lapse and send it to PetaPixel, you’re gonna win a world’s
    first for the biggest aerial tu*d ever!..

  • DLCade

    Your comment was deleted because it referenced the flight attendant error, which we corrected. Nothing more.

    See featured comment for more details.

  • DLCade

    We are in the process or instituting a stricter delete/blacklist policy to help remedy what many readers and photographers we work with have pointed out with ever-increasing frequency: that our comments section is quickly turning into a terribly negative, non-constructive place to tear people down in brutal fashion.

    To that end, we are currently drafting a guideline for commenting that will help us be more consistent when it comes to deciding which comments will stay and which will go. Until those guidelines are up, we kindly request that you be patient with us when we delete comments that we should maybe have allowed to stay. Our other option is to eliminate the comments section altogether, which we do not want to do.

  • Bryan

    Kudos on trying to moderate these comments better. This has become a rather bitter “community” and I never read the comments without regretting that I chose to scroll down into the muck.

  • BDWT

    The northern lights look cool but the overall production value isn’t as good, this one is choppy, flickers at time and still has the wing in the shot. I appreciate the one in the article much more.

  • CurrentCo

    I would probably do that too since it’s much easier, but the advantage here of shooting pictures is that you can get over 5k footage instead of just (1.5MP) HD footage. More importantly you can use RAW and get far more detailed & controlled images rather than the compressed flattened footage from recording video. much more work, but it can yield much more pleasing results.

  • RJ

    It would be really nice if the video would play… all you see are occasional little boxes of video along the bottom of the image, and only if you keep clicking on them.

  • tmronin

    hey DL! that’s totally ok. I was a bit nasty in my comments when it seemed like PP was promoting someone being a jerk on an airplane in the name of “Photography” and the fact that the results didn’t seem as “crazy unique” as stated. Photographers tend to get a bad rap in mainstream press (the paparazzi misbehaving always make a good story on TMZ, for example) and that opening line wasn’t helping our case…the story still doesn’t show us in the best light.
    I’m a working photographer who travels a lot and even if the hand of Ansel Adam’s spirit was guiding this man to snap off dozens of non-silenced shots nearby while I was trying to sleep or work, I would have pointed out that he was being impolite and inconsiderate of his fellow passengers.

    it’s cool that you are trying to keep it more positive here – I don’t go to DPreview due to the comments/forums.

  • Steinway

    Very cool stuff, I’m sure it was exciting to shoot and fun to put together. Some beautiful stills as well.