Taking a Long Look at 250 in 250

1, April 2014

The city of St. Louis is in the midst of celebrating its 250th birthday, and the Missouri History Museum is at the forefront of the festivities. In just six short weeks since opening its 250 in 250 exhibit, the Museum has seen nearly 60,000 visitors. That's approximately 1,000 visitors each day coming to enjoy the exhibit and the Museum's programming!

Long-exposure of the opening night crowd for the 250 in 250 exhibit.Long-exposure photograph of the opening night crowd for the 250 in 250 exhibit. Click here to see more photographs from the evening.

Over the last year, we've blogged about different aspects of creating this exhibit. On opening night, staff members Cary Horton and Eric Wilkinson documented—through long-exposure photography and time-lapse video recording, respectively—the buzz of the crowd.

Horton used a process called long-exposure photography to get these interesting shots. As she explains it: "The camera is mounted on a tripod and the lens is left open for 30 seconds. The result is an ethereal take on visitors moving around the Museum. Sometimes a person would stand still long enough to capture an entire figure. In other photographs the visitors created so much movement they wrap around the static interior of the Museum."

Wilkinson did something similar to create the following time-lapse video, using two cameras set to take one exposure every five seconds. "Since the cameras can’t do this in video mode they need to be set to take a picture in photo mode every five seconds. This series of photos is then reassembled in post-production as a video with each photo equaling one frame. This frame rate results in a final video that, if left untreated, is 150 times faster than normal speed." The wide shot of the Museum’s Grand Hall has a frame blending effect, called Wide Time, applied to it. "Essentially, this effect looks forward and backward a given number of frames (in this case five) and blends those frames together. Since the camera is stationary, anything in the room that is also stationary will be represented as reality but the people moving in the frame will appear apparitional and smooth."

—Keri McBride, Editor