San Francisco cable car time-lapse

San Francisco cable car time-lapse
Audio sample from Take Time, off The Books’ album, The Lemon of Pink, used with permission. Thanks Nick and Paul!

This is one I’ve been wanting to do for a while. My last two time-lapses were both stationary (Pine St and Lombard St), so I was ready to go mobile. And what better subject than San Francisco’s famed cable cars.

Every day I see the cable cars as I cross Powell to and from work. But I don’t ride them very often, because, well, they’re pretty pricey to ride. $5 without transfers. They are really more like amusement park rides masquerading as public transit.

In that spirit, I rode the full length of the California line from Van Ness to Market and back again to make this video. It was a lot of fun.


Great great great, great!

chris, thanks. the song by the books i think really adds something special. i love how on the way back, the stoplights almost seem synchronized with the music.

Justin this is really awesome. Are there seats in the very front or did you stand over the driver’s shoulder? Also did you use a tripod?

Jacob, thanks. The cable car definitely has seats up “front”, on either side of the gripman, who operates the levers in between the rows of seats. I had my beat-up little Canon SD400 attached to an Ultrapod II with the legs together that I just handheld against a poll up front. In fact in the beginning few seconds you can see me adjust the angle of the camera to make the horizon more level.

Note: I put “front” in quotes because the cable cars used on the California line are reversible. Depending on whether you’re heading towards Market or Van Ness, either side can be the front.


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