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Video: Chicago Dazzles In Stunning New Tilt-Shift Time Lapse

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on May 30, 2017 5:39PM

We're suckers for a good Chicago-centric time-lapse video. There's something about the compressed time and God's-eye-view perspective that draws out the majesty from the routine. The latest standout clip to hit our radar throws in another element to set itself apart and make the city shine: the mini-making effects of tilt-shift photography.

Tilt-shift is a not-uncommon technique that creates a miniature simulation of its subject; but for his project, time-lapse virtuoso Chris Biela went analog, using actual T-S lenses instead of feeding it through software for a digital approximation. ELEVATED - "Tiny" City of Chicago trains the effect on a slew of landmarks: the Chicago River, Lake Shore Drive, Grant Park, the theatre district, the 'L', Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium. You get a wonderful juxtaposition of the towering built environment (shot from high above the city) with the quick-movement frenzy of the shrunken, soft-focus masses below. That probably makes it sound a bit dehumanizing; the result however is exactly the opposite.

It wasn't easy to achieve. "I started to shoot sequences last winter on every occasion in high elevations and indoors," Biel told Chicagoist via email. From start to finish, the whole project—spanning 60 time lapses and some 20,000 pictures—took nearly 18 months. Looks worth it to us.

You can check out more of Biela's work at his YouTube page. The equally eye-popping St. Patrick's river dye job and Chicago, Summer '16 vids are of particular local interest.