Seven-Minute House

Time lapse photos: Roe Osborn; Sound track: "Tangerine" by the Bert Jackson Quartet.

[Editor's note: JLC Sr. Ed., Roe Osborn, plays bass for the BJQ. If you're short on time, please consider advancing to 4:33 for Roe's bass solo, which comes at a particularly sweet and serendipitous moment in the completion of the exterior, and just before the drum solo that underlies the dedication of this heartfelt  project exemplifying the giving spirit of those in the building trades. It's highly recommended that you save watching this time-lapse video for "happy hour" - however and whenever that time might come to you.]

 Please don’t tell my boss, but I have a lot of fun doing what I do. Before strapping on the JLC editor’s toolbelt, I was a freelance photographer, and photography is still one of my deepest passions. So two years ago when my friends at Cape Cod Habitat for Humanity asked me to help with the first Blitz Build, I thought that a time-lapse video of the event would be fun to do.

This year, the Cape Cod H4H again collaborated with Cape Cod Builders Association for Blitz Build ’15, and again I volunteered to do the heavy lifting of my camera to capture the event. (Taking the time-lapse photos actually did not involve any lifting at all beyond the initial setup). This time around, there was another house next door to use for staging, so  I set up the camera in one of its second-floor windows—a wonderful bird’s-eye view of the site. The problem was that the camera faced almost due south, and the sun angle two days before the autumnal equinox meant interference from above. I considered changing the set-up location, but in order to preserve the continuity—and quality—of the day’s photos, I instead fashioned elaborate sunshades out of cardboard scraps that I taped and tacked to the window opening while the camera was still clicking shots every three minutes. I decided that this was not a good strategy for shooting the rest of the project.

Luckily there was a ton of pipe staging on site and I snagged a section that I set up on the opposite side of the house on the edge of the woods with the help of the new owners. That staging would be my perch for the rest of the Blitz except when shooting a short interior sequence through a first-floor window. When I learned that the dedication would take place in front of the house, I returned the camera to its original spot, and this time managed to escape the sun’s wrath for that sequence.

The time lapse takes just over seven minutes, including the list of all the wonderful volunteers at the end. My only regret is having just a single camera for shooting. While it’s fun to watch the outside activity zooming by, all the work inside is happening equally as fast, but hidden from view. Check back in 2017. I may try to have a second camera inside and then do a split-screen video. THAT would be something!