There are countless time-lapses of the New York City skyline, but filmmaker Joseph DiGiovanna is working on a project unlike others you’ll see: he’s been working on a time-lapse that will hopefully span 30 years.
Photographer Emeric Le Bars is starting a new documentary series about time-lapse photographers and their stories, and he sat down to interview DiGiovanna for the first episode above.
After moving to Weehawken, New Jersey, DiGiovanna became obsessed with his view of the Manhattan skyline from his apartment window.
“I wanted to film everything,” DiGiovanna tells Le Bars. “I wanted to film boats going by. I wanted to film the sunrise and the sunset and the clouds and a storm and a rainbow. And I wanted to film buildings being built and things changing.”
Starting with only sharing sunrises when Instagram had a 15-second video limit, DiGiovanna switched to sharing entire days when Instagram expanded its allowable video length.
The high-quality photos that go into his time-lapses are captured every 30 seconds using a Sony a7S mirrorless camera permanently mounted to the top corner of an apartment window. The camera is tethered to a MacBook Pro that’s always on and receiving photos from the camera.
While much of the process is automated, DiGiovanna is still working on a system that can generate intelligent and beautiful time-lapses on its own.
DiGiovanna is over four years into his project now, and you can follow along with his time-lapses on his Instagram account @nyc_timescape. Here’s an example day:
When NYC was hit by a major blackout in July 2019, DiGiovanna was one of the people who managed to capture a time-lapse of it:
DiGiovanna has already captured over 4 million photos of the NYC skyline thus far, and if everything goes according to current plans, the project will end after 10,958 days in the year 2045.