A team of professional photographers had the rare opportunity to capture a time-lapse of the Suurhoff Bridge as it drove through downtown Rotterdam to its final installation location.
Bas Stoffelsen – owner of The Timewriters – is a professional time-lapse photographer from the Netherlands who told PetaPixel that he was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure to create a time-lapse showing the journey of the Suurhoff Bridge (“Suurhoffbrug”) during a slow River cruise documents the heart of Rotterdam.
The bridge, a 656 long tied arch bridge, headed for its destination near the bustling port area of the Dutch city, where after arriving almost a week later it was installed next to an existing bridge that is currently serving traffic to and from the Maasvlakte port area.
To capture the trip, Stoffelsen and his team used self-made “timeboxes”, which are waterproof cases, which in this case are equipped with a Canon EOS Rebel T7 – also known as EOS 2000D – and a computer with 4G connection to control the time lapse. A wide-angle Sigma 10mm f / 2.8 was used for the lens so they could capture as much of the scene as possible.
The bridge has to rotate a few times, so the team used two cameras to make sure the forward movement was always visible. In total, each camera shot around 40,000 photos at intervals of three seconds during the journey and installation, that is around 26 minutes of film material at 25 frames per second.
Because the trip took several days and the lighting kept changing dramatically, the team couldn't take photos manually, according to Stoffelsen, and much of the post-production work was specifically focused on removing the visible “flicker” that can occur during complex time-lapse operations. The two had to make sure the film was as smooth as the ride itself.
To solve the problem of powering the timeboxes – each consuming around 15 watts – they relied on a complete battery trailer hoisted aboard the bridge to ensure the devices did not run out of power.
Most long-term timelapse boxes use either wired electricity (which would be complicated here without the battery trailer) or solar power. Stoffelsen says all of the alternative options the team had considered would not be good enough, especially since the trip was delayed by a week due to the bad weather and the timeboxes were already installed by that point. Additionally, due to the equipment already installed, the cameras were out of range as no one was allowed to access their location once they got on.
The team made sure that everything was set up and checked before departure and hoped that nothing went wrong, as is often the case with long-term time lapses, but especially with this mobile situation. Stoffelsen noted that even something as unfortunate as bird droppings or anything else that might cover the camera would dramatically affect the viability of the final footage.
Fortunately, the footage went as they had hoped, especially since such a large project doesn't happen very often, says Stoffelsen.
“First a bridge under a bridge … and then there is the view. Height is the key in this story. The higher you can hang your cameras, the better the view, and even for the port of Rotterdam such transports through the center area are rare. “
The Timewriters had an earlier time-lapse project of a boat sailing the Dutch waterways that was shown on PetaPixel in early 2021, but for several other time-lapse videos made by the company, check out their website or YouTube channel The Timewriters.