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TimeLAX 07 - The LA Traffic

The L.A. Traffic

After the third installment of the TimeLAX series, we have been producing time-lapse videos that are theme-based such as “Hollywood Nights”, “Silicon Beach” and “The Old Sixth Street Viaduct.”

This time we have released a piece that portrays mainly the traffic in the Los Angeles area along with traditional and not-so-traditional time-lapse shots of the city.

Los Angeles is internationally known for its traffic. There are so many cars in this city that traffic violation statistics seem a little bit crazy year after year, no matter what authorities do to enforce good behavior behind the wheel. Just to give you an idea, an article published by the L.A. Times in April of this year (latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-2016-traffic-deaths-20170403-story.html) states that the number of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers killed in L.A. traffic rose sharply in 2016.

For those who don’t live or haven’t lived in Los Angeles let me tell you that high-speed car pursuits conducted by the California Highway Patrol are broadcast on local television and radio stations regularly. Yes, regularly and every time it happens! This is a truly social phenomenon.

Here you always find people complaining about traffic, how far places are, DUI police checkpoints, the lack of available parking in popular areas, etc. But that is part of what living in such a big city with huge freeways means.

To create the video with a more documentary style, I included fragments of police communications (related to traffic incidents) not only in the beginning but also throughout the video. You can hear things like traffic collisions but also someone running into traffic and the unbelievable case of an 11-year-old kid that jumped out of a car.

Most of the freeway photo sequences were shot purposely during busy holiday weekends, on Friday nights or when there was road construction; this way I could capture actual traffic jams instead of just light trails, using a maximum of 1 second for the shutter speed. When I mention photo sequences that are not traditional, I mean that I made a few experiments such as mounting the camera on my car’s roof to shoot the skyscrapers from a lower angle as I was driving and mounting the camera with a fish-eye lens on a motorized tripod head to do tilt-downs which made straight lines in the composition look “elastic.”

This video is some sort of mash up made with old photo sequences that couldn’t be included in previous installments and new ones created this year. I put everything together, synchronizing the scenes with the music as usual. This is something I take special care with, not only when I’m editing but from the very beginning of the production process. I can’t imagine one of our videos not being synchronized with the music.

The best part to me is that the video came up exactly the way I envisioned it and after so many years dealing with heavy traffic on the freeways at least I can watch this video and say that such traffic looks spectacular from the photography perspective.

Enjoy the ride!

Ralph.

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