The Launch of Time in Lapse


About a week ago, I launched a new side project called Time in Lapse. The goal for this project was simple: share everything I have been learning about time-lapse and landscape astrophotography. It was a lot of work writing and organizing all the content but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

So who is this site for? Anyone who wants to learn time-lapse photography or capture the night sky with their DSLR. The guides cover all the basics, everything from camera settings to recommended gear and I’ll be updating the Blog with new tutorials on a regular basis.

I’m particularly proud of the Astrophotography guide, which describes how photograph the Milky Way and other nighttime landscapes. I share all the tips and tricks I have acquired after many nights under the stars and countless hours researching.

To get this initial version of the site launched, I did have to hold off on releasing some features to meet my deadline. For example, the Store page will eventually include a “Videos” section where you can purchase stock footage for your own projects (coming soon). I also have plans for creating video tutorials and a lot of other exciting updates, so stay tuned.

I hope Time in Lapse can inspire you to photograph your own adventures and please feel free to send me any questions along the way.

Aurora Borealis in New Hampshire

Last Monday, my Aurora forecast app on the iPhone was reading high levels and there was a buzz amongst other astrophotographers I follow on Instagram. Exhausted from a another long day of work, I reluctantly grabbed my camera and headed out around 10PM.

I had no idea it would be one the best nights of my life.

On the grassy slope of a small pond, I arranged my camera and started looking for the Aurora. The sky in front of me was fairly illuminated but I assumed it was from the quarter-moon reflecting on clouds above the horizon. Then I took my first photo. “Wow, this is amazing!” Purple and pink pillars of light rose out of a soft green haze. It took a minute to fully believe that I was watching the Aurora Borealis.

I set up a time-lapse and waited. Once in a while, I could faintly see new columns of light with my own eyes, although it looked nothing like what the camera was seeing. All around me were hundreds of fireflies hovering above the wet, tall grass — I felt like I was at a noiseless fireworks show. The sound of constant water spilling from the pond’s runoff filled the night, along with fish jumping, an owl hooting, and two curious ducks who swam near me for hours.

During one of my time-lapse sessions, a blazing white streak burned across the sky, lighting everything around me. I have never seen a shooting star so bright. You can see it around the 8-second mark in the video above.

Unsure of what settings to use for my first attempt at photographing the Aurora, I eventually stopped my time-lapse and restarted it with a shorter interval. The wind had picked up at that time, bending the grass in front of me and creating small ripples on the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I thought were clouds quickly moving by but then I realized it was the Aurora growing stronger.

Waves of light rapidly pulsed across the sky, similar to the movement of a lazy flame. In complete awe, I watched the northern lights dance above my head like I never thought possible in New Hampshire. Quickly, I repositioned my camera, configured another time-lapse and spent the next hour watching pure magic.

By 2AM the next morning, I was feeling guilty for witnessing such beauty without my wife (who stayed home with our sleeping daughter) and knew that I had already captured some amazing footage. I packed up, looked at the Aurora one more time, and said, “Thank you.” Not two seconds later, another fish jumped directly in front of me as if to reply, “You’re welcome.”

What a stunning night it was. Stay tuned for more astrophotography and tutorials coming soon.

3 Steps Toward Guilt-Free Downtime


Photo via Unsplash

When I tell people I’m self-employed, they’re response is usually, “I wish I had a flexible schedule like you.” In reality, I find the opposite to be true. Because I do a lot of client work, I’m often required to work normal business hours so I can answer questions and send updates. Being self-employed can also make it hard to “shut down” work after hours because I’m responsible for everything. When not busy doing the actual work, I’m spending time looking for new leads, pursuing side projects, and a slew of general business operations.

Moreover, I’m the sole provider for my growing family and the fear of being in a tight financial spot is enough to make any relaxing moment feel guilty. The problem is that constantly working long hours and never taking a break will absolutely lead to burnout, the bane of the self-employed. If you’ve ever felt exhausted after a week of hard work and still felt like nothing got done then you know the mental stress I’m talking about.

As with most things in life, the secret is balance. Here are 3 essential steps toward guilt-free downtime:

  1. This one should be fairly obvious but get the ugly chores done first. You know those items you’re not looking forward to and keep pushing off? Crank through those tasks before anything else and you’ll be rewarded with an accomplished feeling throughout the day.
  2. Schedule true breaks into your day. Consistent rest is essential to stave off burnout and is often when our best ideas spawn. Planning specific downtime into your day is just as crucial as getting work done.
  3. During your free time, consider activities that may yield beneficial results. For example, over the last couple years, I have discovered a new passion for photography. It started as a fun interest with no intentions of generating income but has led to new work opportunities and side projects. Going for a hike is another great example because it’s a healthy exercise. In contrast, when I relax with something like a video game, I’m left with nothing in the end and that time spent feels completely wasted.

How Andrew Found Momo and Success Found Them

Find Momo

Me and Momo taking in the view.

“If money were no object, what would you do with your life?” That’s the advice you’ll always hear when trying to figure out your dream career. For Andrew Knapp, all he needed was a good friend, a (mostly) reliable VW van, and a camera.

That friend I’m talking about is Momo and, in case you haven’t seen his viral Instagram account yet, he’s a dog. I’ve actually worked with Andrew for a handful of years building websites and apps together — he is, hands down, the best designer I’ve ever collaborated with (though I do wonder if Momo is the secret talent behind the keyboard). We’ve crafted some amazing projects together that I’m very proud of.

These days, Andrew spends most of his time traveling across Canada and USA with his four-legged copilot. On their 2014 book tour, my family and I hosted the duo for one night near the start of their trip. At one point, Andrew had left Momo alone with me and my wife so, of course, we whipped out our iPhones like a couple of celebrity-chasing paparazzi. I kid you not, Momo darted upstairs and out of sight, as if to say, “This wasn’t in my contract!”

The next morning, I took a quick ride in the VW van and I remember it being an experience of its own. Before we backed out of the driveway, Andrew said, “Oh, hold on a minute.” He hopped out, opened the rear hatch of the van, and proceeded to pour an extraordinarily heavy-weight oil into the engine. “It has so many miles, it won’t run on regular oil anymore,” he explained.

I’ll be the first to admit that Andrew and I are not cut from the came cloth. I like planning my road trips out, knowing where I’ll be sleeping each night, and preparing as best I can. At the same time, though, I admire his pure freedom and unwavering belief that things will work out somehow. I forget how we got on the subject but I had asked him what he had planned on doing after the tour and he said, “I’m not really sure yet. I just sold my house so I guess the first thing I’ll need to do is find a place to park my van.” You can’t help but be envious of someone with so little strings attached.

Getting back to the “earning a living” part of this story, Andrew has figured out a way to do that through selling ‘Find Momo’ books. He has two out so far (his latest called ‘Coast to Coast’ was released this month) and if you’re in need of new coffee table material, look no further. Andrew and Momo are currently on another USA tour so be sure to check the locations and you might even get a pawtograph.

I’ll wrap up with saying that Andrew is the real deal. His adventures with Momo are genuine and not an artificial ploy to make money. Some people may even wonder how taking pictures of the same dog everyday can lead to a business and the answer is in Andrew’s exceptionally creative photographs. I encourage you to follow their journey together and if you’re fortunate enough to meet them in your travels, give Momo a high-five for me.

Find Momo Books

How to Write Effective Job Listings

I’m always on the hunt for new web design opportunities and that includes browsing freelance job boards once in a while. I dread it every time. The majority of listings are vague, ask for unnecessary requirements, and are often shrouded in secrecy. There are simple ways to write better job descriptions and, as a result, attract better talent.

Give the problem, not the solution

Most listings specifically outline the web languages and tools “needed” to complete the project. Can we take a minute to think about how backwards that is? The job’s solution being defined before any hired designer has reviewed the problem! This is like going to the hospital and telling your doctor what medicine you want prior to being diagnosed.

I also like how Seth Warburton put it:

A better approach would be to explain the problem in detail, then hire the candidate you trust to provide the right answers. Let the hired expert(s) use their education and experience to determine exactly what tools and techniques are needed for the job.

Seek help from a human, not a Ninja/Guru/Jedi/Rockstar/God

Say it with me: “Web designers are normal people.” They do not need a black belt to wrangle HTML, nor do midi-chlorians run through their veins. According to, the search for a “Ninja” has increased over 3,000% since 2010. Stop this nonsense. Set realistic expectations and never believe anyone who says they are in fact a ‘puter Ninja/Guru/Jedi/Rockstar/God.

The following are examples of poorly written, obscure requirements I found in recent job listings. I’ve taken the liberty of adding what a web designer thinks as they read them.

  • Send links to your work that demonstrates your amazing-awesome-rockstar-ninja-ness.

    “Absolutely. Right after you learn real words.”

  • You will have coding skills in XHTML, HTML, PHP, CSS, JAVA, BASH and AJAX. Macromedia Flash is a bonus.

    “It’s 2015 and Flash is a bonus? Worse yet, Macromedia Flash? Yikes.”

  • Must be a design Ninja, a jack-of-all-trades, with expertise in typography, graphic design, art direction, photography, video, and web.

    “Basically, must be able to do several careers for the price of one. Got it.”

  • Looking for an über-talented & energetic full-stack UX designer and UI artist.

    “Needs more buzzwords.”

Be honest about your budget

No one like talking about budget. Why? Because they think if they throw out a number, the designer will intentionally use up every dollar. This goes back to my previous point: only hire people you trust! A good and honest designer will look at your budget and be able to tell you what can be accomplished, and even tell you if it will cost less.

Mike Monteiro said it best with:

“I’ll tell you what you can get for that amount. Then we can talk about whether you actually need that much design or not. But most of all, what that number tells me is how to guide you toward the appropriate solution for you, and to stay away from solutions that are outside of your price range.”

Above all, be respectful

Don’t be condescending and use all-caps sparingly. Treat potential employees like a valued member of your team, not just a set of hands you plan to control. For example, statements like this:

MUST include cover letter, resume, and portfolio link. Submissions without any of these will NOT be considered!

Can easily be written as:

Please include cover letter, resume, and portfolio link to be considered. Thank you for your time.

Common courtesy goes a long way toward finding great designers who will want to work with you.