The beauty of Acadia National Park inspires photographers to take a lot of photos. Few, however, have taken as many as Bar Harbor resident Will Greene, who captured more than 35,000 still images on his way to producing a time-lapse video documenting the park’s splendor in all four seasons. The sped-up clips allow viewers to see the almost imperceptible march of time, which often goes unnoticed.
In portions of the film, the sun rises and sets in just a few seconds. Clouds race overhead, streams appear to run in a dream-like state, the Milky Way wheels over the Atlantic Ocean near Monument Cove, and tides ebb and flow.
Titled simply “Acadia,” Greene’s roughly five minute video is generating high praise from those who have seen it as it has gone viral on a number of websites and Facebook pages.
Greene, who is heading off for his freshman year at Middlebury College next week, did the video as part of his senior exhibition requirement at Mount Desert Island High School. He began last fall and presented what footage he had last spring for his grade. He continued to work on the project all summer to get scenes from that season. The finished product, with music by Jack Sasner, was released two weeks ago.
Teacher Kirk Lurvey suggested Greene use his love of photography to create the video. It took hundreds of hours to capture the footage, with Greene often lugging 35 pounds of cameras and special tracking equipment into the park’s backcountry. For some of the winter shots, he travelled on cross country skis. “It’s something I really loved doing,” said Greene.
Each sequence took several hours to make. Using a grant from the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Greene purchased a special track that allowed the camera to pan and move while synchronizing with the shutter so as not to blur any images. An interval timer took the individual frames anywhere from two minutes to 30 seconds apart. During daylight, the camera’s automatic exposure was adequate. At night, each frame required an exposure of 30 seconds to capture details of the stars and planets.
Special computer software “stitched” the images together like frames of a movie. Anywhere from 12 to 30 frames were needed for each second of video footage. Greene then experimented with the playback rate and other metrics to create each clip. He made more than 56 different scenes that he ultimately blended together in the final video.
“You have to have an idea of what the finished product is when you start,” Greene said. “Of course, it all depends on what you capture.”
On some expeditions to collect images, Greene was accompanied by friends. Most times, however, he went solo. When he wanted to do an all-night set up to capture the night sky and sunrise near Sand Beach, he made sure to get a special permit from Acadia officials first.
During the shooting process, nearly every person Greene came into contact with was supportive and curious about his equipment. Only rarely were shots compromised by human activity or vehicles with headlights. During one setup near Monument Cove, a maintenance crew arrived before sunup to complete some work before it got busy during the day. “I had to cut some of that one out,” he said.
While filming his last setup near Bass Harbor Head Light, one evening, people already positioned on the rocks to watch the sunset encouraged Greene to set up his equipment in front of them. A man came along and got angry. “I think he was just mad anyone else was there,” Greene said.
The irony of having to devote so much time and effort to compress a year’s worth of work into just five minutes of video is not lost on Greene. “I really did spend a large amount of time on this. I really enjoyed it when I had to hike in to get the shot. It never felt like a chore.”