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Photographer’s hyperlapse video of San Francisco reveals hidden gems

On the quiet dignity of a Powell Street traffic cone

We’re all used to things like time-lapse videos of San Francisco. Such exercises are often striking (this is arguably the most photogenic city in America), but rarely noteworthy. After all, there’s plenty of that to go around.

The video by local photographer Matt Richards titled "San Francisco (Timelapse/Hyperlapse)" at first appears more of the same—a sunrise, fog rolling in, clouds streaming overhead, et cetera. It’s been done, right?

But there is a bit more here than meets the eye. That sunrise shot at the opening, for example, is not just a sunrise: It’s also a portrait of the waters rushing into the bay, pushed through the mouth of the Golden Gate with titanic force.

Just like the drone buzzing the skyline at around the thirty second mark is actually not shooting the skyline; rather, it’s shooting a panoramic circle around the Transamerica Pyramid, which stays almost precisely in the center of the frame. The entire two minute production is full of Easter eggs like that.

If you pay too much attention to the glow of the cars down Market Street at night at around 0:55, you might not notice the carousel-like swirl of the lights around City Hall.

The sunset from Twin Peaks at the end is nice and all, but don’t miss the hilltop to the extreme left of the frame, where you can spot seemingly hundreds of people arrive and depart while admiring the same view.

The madcap pace of foot and bus traffic on Powell Street at around 1:05 is neat, but the unmoving and placidly out of place safety cone propped up in the foreground is the real star. Richards even pauses to pick out a couple of people on the observation deck of the de Young Museum’s tower.

Although Richards (whose personal website appears to be written mostly in Latin for some reason) only uploaded the video at the beginning of this month, most of the footage appears to be from last winter: The Bay Lights are not yet turned back on, and the Ferry Building sports a giant "50" still for the Super Bowl.