Pacific Marine Layer clouds (Advection Fog)
rolling in over the Santa Cruz Mountains
Palo Alto, California - August 29, 2001


8-second, 175-frame Timelapse movie
Frames shot every five seconds over one
half hour with a Nikon 990 Digital Camera

©2001 Jim Leftwich - All Rights Reserved

This afternoon when I was walking back to my office from the post office in downtown Palo Alto, I looked westward up Hamilton Street and noticed that the Pacific Marine Layer (Advection Fog) was rolling in over the Santa Cruz Mountains in a big and dramatic way.

The Pacific Marine Layer rolls in daily over the 1,900 foot high Santa Cruz Mountains this time of year during the mid to late afternoon. With the air being extraordinarily clear today, the light on the roiling white clouds was really gorgeous.

The clouds move so fast you can sit and watch them like a slow motion waterfall, but I thought I'd take my digital Nikon 990 over to the top of a nearby five-story parking structure and see if I could get a good set of shots that I could make a timelapsed movie with. This is the same parking structure that I went to the top of to take these photos of a rainbow back in late June.

I set my camera and tripod up around 6:30pm and pointed westward up along the mountains as they stretch north towards San Francisco thirty miles to the north. The view begins just north of Black Mountain, labeled here in this 3D topological map of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The sun's glare unfortunately obscured the large clock face on the the side of the building in the center of the frame, but the 8 second animation represents just short of a half an hour. Only after getting set up did I realize I'd not brought a watch, so I guessed that one shot every 5 seconds would yield a good flowing action and counted out manually, "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi, CLICK," (rinse and repeat, etc.) I did this 175 times!

Using Adobe Photoshop's batch processing feature, I reduced the size of each of the frames to 320 x 240 and then used QuickTime to create the 2.1 Mb .mov-format movie from the directory with the sequence of individual frames.

As soon as I saw the results I was so glad I'd decided to do this!