A team of professional photographers had the rare opportunity to record a timelapse of the Suurhoff Bridge as it sailed through the Rotterdam city center towards its final installation location.
Bas Stoffelsen — owner of The Timewriters — is a professional timelapse photographer from the Netherlands who told PetaPixel that he was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure to create a timelapse documenting Suurhoff Bridge’s (“Suurhoffbrug”) journey as it took a slow river cruise through the heart of Rotterdam.
The bridge, which is a 656 long tied-arch bridge, headed for its destination near the Dutch city’s busy port area, where, after arriving almost one week later, it was installed alongside an already existing bridge that currently carries traffic to and from the Maasvlakte port area.
To capture the journey, Stoffelsen and his team used self-made “timeboxes,” which are waterproof housings outfitted in this case with Canon EOS Rebel T7 — also known as the EOS 2000D — and a computer with a 4G connection to control the timelapse. For the lens, a wide-angle Sigma 10mm f/2.8 was used to allow them to capture as much of the scene as possible.
The bridge has to turn on a few occasions, so the team used two cameras to ensure that the forward movement was always visible. Overall, each camera shot around 40,000 photos at an interval of three seconds throughout the journey and installation, which is approximately 26 minutes of footage at 25 frames per second.
Because the journey took multiple days and the lighting constantly changed dramatically as a result, Stoffelsen says the team couldn’t shoot in manual, and a lot of post-production work was specifically focused on getting rid of the visible “flicker” that can occur during complex timelapses. The two needed to make sure the film was as smooth as the ride itself.
To solve the problem of powering the timeboxes — as each uses approximately 15 watts — they relied on a complete battery trailer, which was hoisted aboard the bridge to ensure that there isn’t a moment when the equipment runs out of power.
Most long-term timelapse boxes either rely on wired power (which would be complicated here without the battery trailer) or solar power. Stoffelsen says that any alternative options the team had considered wouldn’t be good enough, especially because the journey was delayed for a week due to bad weather, and the timeboxes were already installed by that time. Furthermore, because the equipment was already installed, the cameras were out of reach because once they went up, no one was allowed to access their location.
The team made sure that everything was set up and checked ahead of the departure, and hoped that nothing went wrong as is often the case with long-term timelapses, but especially so with this mobile situation. Stoffelsen noting that even something as unfortunate as bird waste or anything else that might cover the camera would dramatically affect the viability of the final footage.
Luckily, the footage came out just as they hoped, especially because a project as grand as this does not happen particularly often, Stoffelsen says.
“First off all, a bridge under a bridge… and then, there is the view. Height is key in this story. The higher you can hang your cameras the better the view, and even for the port of Rotterdam, these kinds of transports through the centre-area are rare.”
The Timewriters have had a past timelapse project of a boat sailing through the Dutch waterways featured on PetaPixel earlier in 2021, but for several other timelapse videos filmed by the company, make sure to check out The Timewriters’ website or YouTube channel.