Get Lost in 'Adrift,' Simon Christen's Time-Lapse Love Letter to the Fog of the San Francisco Bay Area

Getting the right shot can sometimes take hours, maybe even days. But what about years? That's the case with Simon Christen's gorgeous time-lapse video Adrift, which is at least two years in the making. If you've ever wondered what it might feel like to hover among above the clouds around the San Francisco Bay Area, this video is about the closest you're going to get:

The music was custom-written for the piece by Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf, and you can actually license any of this footage directly from Simon by going to his website. Here is a little of what Simon wrote on Vimeo describing the process:

The weather conditions have to be just right for the fog to glide over the hills and under the bridge. I developed a system for trying to guess when to make the drive out to shoot, which involved checking the weather forecast, satellite images and webcams multiple times a day. For about 2 years, if the weather looked promising, I would set my alarm to 5am, recheck the webcams, and then set off on the 45-minute drive to the Marin Headlands.

I spent many mornings hiking in the dark to only find that the fog was too high, too low, or already gone by the time I got there. Luckily, once in a while the conditions would be perfect and I was able to capture something really special. Adrift is a collection of my favorite shots from these excursions into the ridges of the Marin Headlands.

He mentioned his technique and gear in the comments (all photos were captured in manual mode):

I am using a canon 7D and canon 40D and try and capture as much footage as possible.
Depending on exposure time, it's usually between one picture every 2-10sec. This way individual images of the fog still connect to each other and produce a nice smooth motion.
I'm shooting in the highest resolution possible with both cameras and in RAW.
Most shots in this video are trimmed and are much longer in its original form. So each shot is usually between 2-4 hours of shooting.

If you missed his last video The Unseen Sea, check it out:

If you're feeling generous, be sure to head on over and donate to his tip jar, which will go towards helping him put out more beautiful videos.


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Good article, but the first line doesn't quite make sense: "Getting the right shot can sometimes hours, maybe even days."

I think take should be before hours.

July 2, 2013 at 6:29PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM



July 2, 2013 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Oh look, another timelapse video

July 2, 2013 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

john jeffries

Time lapse is a weird thing. All of those images, and images of other time lapse videos I've seen are amazing, but after about 1:30, I get bored regardless of how amazing they are.

I think this really proves the point that story is the most important part of video. Used in the context of the right story, time lapse images can be very powerful, but just a long montage of time lapse will always get boring.

The video I'm posting a link to is one of the most amazing time lapse videos I've seen. It shows the movement of life in ways that can only be seen over long periods of time through video. It's really amazing to see how a Fern moves as it grows, but even this get's boring.

It's all about the story.

July 2, 2013 at 7:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '+1'.

This is truly spectacular, not just because of the images but also the enormous amount of work and dedication that they represent. It's easy to blow timelapse videos off these days because there are just so many of them - but I think you are right in highlighting this one. I have a huge amount of respect for Simon and the passion that dedication that he has obviously shown for this project.

I was smitten with The Unseen Sea when it came out, and was thrilled to recognize one of the shots on a national car commercial (I think it was Mazda) not long after. I hope this new project brings good things his way.

July 3, 2013 at 8:01AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Very interesting. Thought you might like to see a similar film shot in the Himalayas. It's called the valley of clouds.

July 5, 2013 at 2:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM