Artist Spotlight – Jamie Scott

This week we are excited to feature timelapse photographer, Jamie Scott. Jamie has been a customer with us since 2019 and isn't our typical local customer. Jamie lives in New York and trusted our expertise on what gear to use, camera settings, maintaining focus over week-long camera exposures, and other timelapse-related questions. Jamie recently completed his film WINTER and when he sent it to us to watch, we knew we had to share. So let's get into it. 

When did you start and what motivated you to get into timelapse photography?

I started time-lapse in 2011. After almost 10 years in New York, I was planning on moving to LA and I really wanted to do a project to capture the Fall colours before I left. It's something I'd wanted to do since I arrived in NYC and the fact that I was leaving meant I was finally forced to do it. So the first time-lapse I ever did was Fall in Central Park which I released in 2012.

What's been your biggest challenge while shooting timelapse?

There are so many challenges with time-lapse. I would say the biggest universal challenge is that you are shooting an event that has not happened yet or a subject that does not yet exist. This is because at the beginning of any shot the main subject is either not there or looks very different at the start of the shot than it will at the end. For example, an icicle is only a drip of water to begin with or a flower only starts as a bud. Even a sunset (one of the most commonly shot time-lapses) is usually just a sky with a touch of pink to begin with. This means you have to set your composition, your focus, and your aperture (and therefore depth of field) without really knowing what the shot is going to look like.

I cannot overstate how many times I've shot a time-lapse and thought halfway through the shot that it would be so much better if I rotated the camera 20 degrees, but once you've started you can't change it. Luckily the shutter speed/exposure can be adjusted over time and easily fixed in post-production with the aid of applications like LR Time Lapse.

Many more specific challenges are project-dependent. I shoot a lot of plants and flowers and they need to be kept alive. At times I have set up watering systems on timers. Grow lights are not the best lights for photography so I often use a combination of grow lights and photography lights that are on timers.

For my Winter film one of the biggest challenges was keeping the cameras powered. Leaving them out in the freezing cold was a massive drain on the batteries so I had to power them with external batteries which in turn needed to be kept dry and fairly warm.

We know timelapse requires a lot of patience and planning. How long did your latest project take you?

Winter took 5 years to shoot. The reason it took so long is that New York City has had warm winters for the last 5 years. For the first 2 years or so I planned out my shots and rushed out when snow was forecast only to stand there in the rain. The 3rd year I went to Montreal where it is colder but didn't snow as much as I needed. The last 2 years of shooting were my most successful. I rented houses with a lot of land in upstate New York in towns that consistently receive snow when the weather is cold. I learned that the weather systems there can be hyper local because of the lake effect from Lake Ontario and other nearby lakes.

Did you use any special effects when you were transitioning between the macro and drone footage?

I'm a visual effects artist by trade. I try to keep my time-lapse as 'in camera' as possible but I always have creative ideas that require a combination of photography and visual effects. For the last shot in Winter, I wanted to capture the full range of all the other shots in the film in a single shot. This had to be shot in many plates and combined in post. The elements for this one shot were shot over 5 years and in every location I shot in. This is a list of the plates:

  • Macro plates of individual snowflakes (Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens)
  • Macro plates of snow falling on black (Canon RF 100mm)
  • Wider plates of snow falling on black (Canon RF 50mm, Canon EF 20mm)
  • Ground plate shot on a slider (Canon RF 100mm)
  • Drone plate flying up (DJI Mavic 2 Pro)
  • Tiled stills of aerial view (drones are only allowed to fly to 300ft in the US. To create the effect of going higher I had to shoot around 50 stills in a grid so I could tile them to achieve a wider shot)
  • Cloud plate - smoke plumes shot in Iceland (Canon R5C / RF 24-70mm)
  • Plates of snow in the air (Canon R5C / RF 24-70mm)

Winter from Jamie Scott on Vimeo.

What's your number one piece of advice for those looking to start timelapse photography?

Have patience and don't expect good results right away. I was very impatient to begin with - I would be angry with myself and with nature for not cooperating, but over the years I've learned to enjoy the process much more. I was really indifferent to nature when I started time-lapse, now I love it.

Big shout out to Jaime for sharing his story and film with us. To see more of his work, find him on Instagram or his website

Get to Know Jaime: 

With over 20 years of experience, I've worked at many world-leading agencies. I started my career at The Mill where I went from a runner to lead Flame Artist in 4 years and worked on many award-winning commercials and music videos with some of the biggest names in the industry including Frank Budgen, Chris Cunningham and Rupert Sanders. In 2004 I was nominated for an MTV VMA for my work on Michel Gondry's Walkie Talkie Man video. In 2006 I joined Mass Market / Psyop New York where I continued to work on award winning projects such as Nike Human Chain (Clio, Cannes Lion) and Audi Synchronized (Clio). In 2012 I moved to Method Studios in LA. I then spent 8 years freelancing with all of the best post-production and visual effects companies including Framestore and MPC. This has also allowed me to explore other avenues outside of advertising, most notably focusing on time lapse photography.


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