With snippets of iconic spots in the city weaved together as they move from a snowy winter to lush summer scenes, all lined up precisely, Kieran Murray‘s video of New York City is mesmerizing.
The effect is incredible thanks to the otherworldly precision. Every tree, building, and bridge line up perfectly. Beyond that, even the subjects captured seem to transport through time.
A man walks along the Brooklyn Bridge in the cold of winter. In the next second, another man resumes his pace from the exact same spot, this time in the bright sunlight of a summer day. This repeats to an almost unbelievable effect. A black dog runs, playing in a park. In the summer, another black dog repeats the same action. A car drives on the cobbled stones of Dumbo in Brooklyn. Another car picks up the route in another time. Different couples pose with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. A horse-drawn carriage completes its journey months apart (twice!). The ducks swim in park ponds as if migration were a myth.
It evokes the cyclical nature of New York City. The same spots remain popular locations for a day out, for a perfect photo opportunity, and people simply always have somewhere to be, always on the move.
“I knew from the beginning that this project was going to be a monumental task but if there was any chance of pulling it off the effect would look impressive,” Murray, who’s been working as a photographer in New York City for the past six years, tells PetaPixel.
Perhaps more captivating are the changes. Washington Square Park’s famed arch stands lonely in the snow, but in the summer it’s joined by crowds and framed by green trees. In another part, its fountain lies dormant, before viewers see the water shoot into the air. The scene and fountain are so lively a person even walks across the water in a giant bubble. A park goes from a desolate scene covered in a blanket of snow, offering only empty branches, to one with groups of people lounging on the green grass. A city comes out of hibernation before viewers’ eyes.
It’s a gorgeous video and one that’s incredibly impressive from a technical perspective. Without seeing the video in question, which is posted on TikTok and Instagram, it’s difficult to describe just how seamless the transitions truly are. The fact that Murray was able to get the framing right across scenes, with markers likely lost and buried under snow, is something to marvel at. Murray says he took note of the position, height, and framing of his tripod when taking the first set of videos. These were actually the summer images, despite the video moving from winder to the warmer months.
“Then I would bring the clips into my editing software and line up the 4k images,” Murray tells PetaPixel. “The first time I ever saw two clips transition from summer to winter on my computer screen I leaned back in my chair and smiled. I knew I had something here.”
A bigger obstacle than getting the alignment just right was out of Murray’s control. It didn’t snow during the winter of 2022 to 2023, so the NYC-based photographer wasn’t able to get the right shots to complete the project. That meant waiting for the next season, making the video take more than two years in total to complete.
“Given that I haven’t seen any kind of video like this done before I was a very steep learning curve and there were a lot of kinks to my method that I had to iron out but it was only made possible through trial and error and learning from each shot,” said Murray.
But in the end, it was worth it. Murray even hopes to continue the series, possibly expanding it globally.
“The project as a whole was actually quite a pleasant experience. It got me out of the house and gave me a reason to stop and admire the scenery in each season. I’ve lived here for eight years and I believe we tend to take our cities for granted and only explore them when friends or family visit. This was the perfect excuse to wander around and capture the beauty of New York,” he says.
“It was also quite therapeutic because I really had to slow down from the usual fast-paced lifestyle and really take the time to make sure each shot was captured perfectly. There were snow days where I was outside in freezing temperatures for 10 hours of the day. A lot of work but I believe it paid off and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Image credits: Photographs by Kieran Murray