It is rare for a person to see a shooting star, one that streaks across the night sky at just the right moment, right when one looks up.
Photographer and filmmaker Jesse Attanasio, aka ONElapse, knows that it can take a lot of time and legwork to see and capture a sight like that.
“Sometimes, I feel like I can find a really good composition, and it’s already there. I’ll take the picture, and I’m like, ‘I don’t have to do anything, I can just put it out there,’ ” he says. “And then sometimes, I can see it, but I’m not in the right element. There has to be a storm or something. So I’ll go to the same spots dozens of times, over and over, until I’m stuck in that situation.”
Attanasio displays the fruits of his labor on his website. His video “Exhale,” for instance, is 2 minutes and 45 seconds of sped-up landscapes where the viewer watches clouds roll, storms brew, suns rise and set, and more.
How Attanasio came to develop ONElapse, a kind of portmanteau of Omaha, and time-lapse, was also a time-consuming process.
Attanasio grew up in La Vista as a skateboarder, but he discovered after several injuries that he would rather take photos of skateboarders. He worked in television production for a short time in high school, but then he realized he did not enjoy working in that field, preferring instead to make and edit his own work.
“Kind of like with taking photos of weddings and stuff,” he says. “I’ve never wanted to do that because I don’t want someone else telling me how my art should be, so that’s always how I’ve felt about everything.”
Attanasio, who also works full-time as a graphic designer, now makes his own decisions about the art he wants to make. He does a great deal of traveling to make it happen.
“My first trip, I drove six hours and camped out overnight and saw the Milky Way,” he says. “And I was just, like, ‘This is incredible.’ ”
His images often seem magical, and so is his method for finding them. For “Exhale,” Attanasio was on the road and simply stopped in different places given the weather in these locations. It is a common scenario for him.
“Honestly, most of the time, I just fall into it.” He might see a storm and then think of a barn he’s driven by. He’ll want to see how the barn looks in a storm.
“I try to find unique situations in common places,” he says. “And then sometimes, it’s just finding a random place that’s just so unique, it’s impossible not to take a photo.”
It is an art form that requires time and patience. Shooting a sunset can take two to three hours while shooting the stars takes three to six hours. Those star time lapses, however, take a full eight hours of photography and videography. He says he sets up his cameras and goes back to the truck while the shots are happening. He whiles away the time listening to comedy podcasts and taking stills with a third camera, usually of his dog “being crazy.”
Even now, Attanasio says, he gets a feeling akin to euphoria when a project comes together.
“What I wanted to happen is happening,” he says. “I wake up at 4 a.m., and I go out to this spot, and it works out exactly how I wanted it to. I got crazy pictures and my timelapses are going good. The adrenaline that’s going through me is, like, I don’t see how it still happens that way.
“In the moment, I’m just, like, ‘I should not be this alert and excited. It doesn’t make sense.’ I feel like a kid.”
Visit onelapse.com to view Attanasio’s work.
This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.