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 Macro semi-circular rail 
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Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:31 pm
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Location: Booyong, NSW, Australia
Post Macro semi-circular rail
Hello. I live in on the east coast of Australia about 2 hours south or Brisbane. I have been taking time lapse for several years now using Canon DSLRs (Canon 5D mk3 and 1ds mk3). Most of my time lapse is macro, though I also do storms and the like when the opportunity arises. Most of the macros I do in a controlled environment (more commonly known as my back shed, also sometimes known as my fungarium). I am looking to do movements with some of these time lapses, but I have seem nothing that would work for this. Does anyone know of a semi-circular track that is about 50cm in diameter? The purpose of this would be to move the camera around a central spot, keeping the same distance away at all times. I expect I'll need to get one made as I'm not great at making those things.


Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:41 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Conversely you could use a rotating table to move the subject - if you really want to move the camera use the rotating table with a 50 cm arm to hold the camera - a curved track with the accuracy to do macro time lapse, I don't think it exists

Tim T

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:25 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Yes, I could, but many of my subjects are on logs or other difficult substrates. While rotating the specimen would be easier, it just wouldn't work for many subjects.


Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:37 am
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Location: Merritt Island, Florida, Estates Unitas
Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
There is an easy way to orbit an object. The rig has a pivot motor directly above the subject. This is either mounted to the ceiling or a beam stretching from one tripod to another. A big "U" shaped thing turns on this pivot with the ends of the arms hanging down on either side of the subject. The arms of another "U" are connected to the arms of the first one by bearings on one side and a motor on the other. The camera is located in the bottom of this second "U", facing toward the arms and the subject. The motor on the ceiling makes the camera move in a circular path all the way around the subject and the second motor makes the camera fly over the top of the subject or view it from below.

Here's a video of my orbit rig in case the description makes no sense.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelo ... 103504883/

[flickr]http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/11103504883/[/flickr]


Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:41 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
SteveA wrote:
Yes, I could, but many of my subjects are on logs or other difficult substrates. While rotating the specimen would be easier, it just wouldn't work for many subjects.


That's why I suggested an orbital camera arm - (sciencelooker's post reminded me of what it is called) you can mount the rotatory table above the subject and hang a camera from an arm so that it orbits the subject. The reason I suggest this is I haven't seen any curved tracks and especially none that work in the accuracy needed for macro time lapse - I'd love to see some of your macro work also.

thanks,
Timt

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:10 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Hi, I used a servocity unit modified to take a stepper motor and attached a 4ft aluminium arm to it and suspended it from the ceiling. Did not photograph rig as it was a temporary experimental set up.
This is not the unit I used but has a much higher load capacity and is easy to modify for stepper use. http://www.servocity.com/html/super_duty_belt_drive_pan_syst.html

Here is the result of my setup, note the background does not change, only the reflections from the silver foil. See Vimeo description.

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:20 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I thought I remember seeing a little MoCo rig on wheels so you could shoot in an arc, but cannot remember what it was called.

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:08 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Thanks guys. I really expected a blank response and I'm a bit amazed to get some really useful answers. It all sounds possible with the only problem I can see being the damp conditions it would have to operate in (some mushrooms like the air to be at about 100% humidity). I use a reptile house heating strip to keep my camera operating, though even my Canon 1ds mk3 has had one repair due to moisture damage. Initially I would use it for scans of fungi without worrying about time lapse. This would produce a moving image as the camera moves around the fungus. It would need 25 discrete stops per second of video, so about 100 stops in a 180deg scan would work ok. I doubt I could do more than 180deg as the space in this little shed is quite limited - and that may be another issue. I did have dreams of having something I could take into the field with me, but I think that may be sometime in the future. If I could get something working in my shed to start with that would be great. I could initially take the gear out after I had the sequence. Later, I could try to automate the gear and damp proof it so that true timelapses were possible in the shed. The field idea could never work with time-lapse as day/night cycles make fungi time-lapse impossible - anyway, I'm unwilling to leave my camera in a rainforest for days on end.

I can show you one video that I did with my partner (Catherine Marciniak) a couple of years ago. I'd prefer if you didn't spread this around, though it is tentatively public (I don't post things on forums if I really want to keep them private). https://vimeo.com/36742933


Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:34 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I like the green funghi (lighting?), and the 4 little spiky-haired white ones.

Here's the MoCo rig I was thinking of, perhaps a little expensive if you just wanted it for a few odd shots:

http://www.lil-mule.com/

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:15 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I'll have to look closely at that one - it looks interesting and the price isn't crazy. Hopefully I can persuade someone to pay for this sort of thing. Sort of a "self sustaining hobby", rather than a true business
The green fungi provide their own light. They are luminous and really very bright (for a luminous fungus), which is very cute. The hairy mushrooms are tiny - about 1mm across the cap (minus the hair).


Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:26 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I've never seen luminous funghi before! What macro lense are you using? I would have said the white ones were small, but wouldn't have guessed that small.

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:20 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
And you live in Brisbane! They certainly grow nearby there, but maybe not in the suburbs. They are relatively easy to find when it is wet in summer, but you do have to go to rainforests in the wet. There's a guy at Springbrook who grows them and has a a dark viewing area.
I used a 100mm macro for that hairy mycena fungi sequence. I do use an MPE-65mm for still shots, but it is too difficult for time-lapse. Maybe I'll try sometime, but I almost always use focus stacking and that is quite difficult with time-lapse. Anyway, it works ok using the 100mm macro at maximum magnification.


Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:49 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Relatively cheap, lightweight waterproof case: http://www.icebear.co.uk/product/aquapac-slr-camera-case-458-submersible-?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shop&utm_campaign=google_shopping&gclid=CMvKw5aL_r8CFamWtAodYgEA4w

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:14 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Yes it could help sometimes, but one of the problems with fungi time-lapse is the length of the time and the need to look at the results progressively. I have the camera on a tripod with an intervalometer, a power chord for the camera power and a heating strip to keep the lens (and camera) warm. Then I usually swap memory cards once a day and check what has been happening. This is needed as it is often impossible to tell if anything has happened without looking at the time-lapse. I also need to do this without disturbing the camera. I think the waterproof housing would increase my chances of disturbing the camera, so I'm prepared for the occasional fix, Anyway, I'll wear out the shutter mechanism at some stage.


Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:34 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I loved your mushroom timelapse Steve.

This is just my opinion but I wonder whether, instead of rotating the camera around the subject, the next step up for you is to embellish the background so that it looks as if it`s been taken outside in the forest. Louie Schwartzberg`s timelapses in "Fantastic fungi" were presumably taken indoors (how else to get even light and no flicker?) but they give the impression of being outdoors.

I suppose to beef up the background with other vegetation makes it harder to revolve the camera around the subject. I`ve never tried, I`m just assuming.

Just a nosey question - how big is your shed?


Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:21 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Thanks for the more specific description of what you want to do. If you want to run long lapses and download the images as they are being recorded, and play back what has been recorded so far to see the progress, and move motors, you want dragonframe stop motion software. It runs on a computer (laptop will do) and controls your cameras functions via the cameras USB port and Canon utilities software. Its very easy to use once you have it installed. Run the camera on AC power with a battery coupler. Have the camera and computer on a large uninterruptable power supply.

Making the orbit rig itself is pretty easy. Its aluminum screen enclosure supports cut to length and joined using aluminum angle with bolt holes drilled. There were some large holes cut to let the motors sit partly inside the aluminum square tube and small holes to let the shaft poke out the other side and for screws to hold it on. The same works for both motors if you plan it right. I used flanged bearings and drilled holes in the aluminum square tube that fit the main bearing but not the flange. For shafts that go in the bearings I get steel rod of the right diameter, after cutting the shafts (extra long, read ahead to see why), they usually need to be polished down a bit before they fit in the bearing. I do this by chucking it in a drill and spinning while holding sandpaper against it. Go slow, in stages. you want a tight fit.

You need some way to keep the shaft from walking out the ends of the bearings. There are lots of ways to do this. A hole drilled in the shaft and cotter pin is one way. I made the shafts extra long so i could use little clamps made from a plastic rod. I cut short lengths of rod and then drilled through the middle making a doughnut that fit tight on the shaft. Then drilled from the side and tapped for a set screw. use set screw to clamp these on rod outboard of the bearings. Done.

Dragonframe stop motion software is made for animating puppets and lets you program a rig to move the camera or other stage elements using stepper motors. Every time the puppet is moved and another exposure is made, the picture is downloaded to the computer automatically. as the animation progresses, the puppeteer can play back the previous frames (backwards and forwards) to see how his manipulations look as animated movement. All camera functions such as iso, shutter speed, aperture, and in some cases focus are controlled by the usb to the camera.

The rig is moved by a controller plugged into another usb. There is a motion control window in the dragonframe software which communicates with this controller. In most cases, this controller outputs step and direction signals for several independent motors. These signals get wired to a stepper motor driver circuit for each motor (another box) which makes the motors turn. It can sound complicated but its not really. In some cases, the drivers are plugged into the controller with a single stereo patch cord, like plugging your cd player into an amplifier. The motor driver has a current adjustment which has to be set to match the motors current requirements, but this can be as easy as setting some dip switches using a chart printed on the driver showing switch positions for different current values. Even easier, you can buy motors with the driver tethered and current adjustment already set. The orbit rig uses NEMA 17 size stepper motors with about 30:1 orbital gear reducers. Just buy the motors with the gearbox already attached.

I make and sell the usb controller for the motors. The current one is the miniDF and it has step/direction plugs for up to four motors. You can control up to four miniDFs from dragonframe for sixteen independent motors. I also sell motor drivers as well as tethered drivers and motors with current already set. You can buy the NEMA 17 motor with the orbital gears, and I also sell focus/zoom motors for lenses which dragonframe cannot control directly. So this is a commercial for my stuff!!!! We also make one-off devices like the orbit rig. To buy a miniDF, motors, motor drivers or almost anything else, contact

francis@a1net.net

There are some things in our online store, but not the miniDF yet. Have a look.

https://squareup.com/market/awannet-llc

If you have specific questions other than ordering, keep the conversation going, always happy to advertise by answering questions. You can also PM me about one-offs or shots you don't want to discuss in the forum.

Here are links to some tutorial videos showing how to use dragonframe and the miniDF

This demonstrates motion control with miniDF

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8BnJJY ... wxV7LdxMAg

This longer video shows step by step how to connect miniDF to a computer running dragonframe then programming a timelapse motion control shot as well as realtime motion control. "here's how!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kisj71_ ... wxV7LdxMAg

this video shows how to install dragonframe software on the computer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TliROwj ... g&index=12

This video shows how to connect stepper motor drivers and wire them to the motors. We sell drivers called the mini slice that plug directly into miniDF with a simple patch cord, and you can get these with motors tethered and current already set if you'd prefer plug and play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ispUu9m ... g&index=11

I made the videos because its easier to watch than read and I wished someone had made these tutorials before I started. Hope they help.


Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:10 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Ian,
You are a man after my own heart. I should explain. The timelapses you saw in that video were my first attempts at the art taken two and a half years ago. I used a second shower at home and the timelapses left a lot to be desired - but they did show just what was possible. One of the things was getting a good background. The ideal would be natural light in a rainforest setting, but unfortunately I don't have unlimited money, so I would have to settle for something less. In this case my little shed (duly insulated and light proofed) with some fallen wood stacked behind the fungus being photographed. The shed is about 10 x 6 ft and has a good set of steel shelves in the middle. The wood background is far enough from the fungi so it is nicely blurred in the shots and it is also only dimply lit. It works quite well. Here is a sample from a recent timelapse http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/Living-t ... fasciatus/
and here is a still photo from the forest. http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/Living-t ... /i-qBw5J3B
Let's just say that I am gradually working to improve the timelapse work and the quality of the composition is always a factor. The quality of the fungus is also paramount and I have spent a lot of time on that too. I know a lot more about how fungi grow than a did a few years ago. Then there's the technical side of the photography and timelapse in particular.
As for your comments re rotating the camera. Yes, it will mean that I have to be careful with the background, but some sots just use the substrate as background, for example this one
http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/Living-t ... /i-HxrFz4V
Moving the camera around the fungi would not present any problems with that sort of shot


Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:52 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Hi Sciencelookers (I can't find your real name),
I'll take a little time to absorb all of that. I am thinking that having a laptop and large equipment in my shed would be difficult and that I am probably better to use the tracking next to the house where I often take still photos. That way I could use a computer and I wouldn't have to worry about the damp. On the other hand, I couldn't take real timelapse as I couldn't leave the gear out for long so it would only be a scan of a subject. However, that is probably the best I can do to start with and it could be quite a lot with some subjects. I am going away to Central Australia tomorrow, so I won't be able to follow this up for a while. Anyway, I am still waiting on news about possible funding, so money for complex gear is still up in the air.


Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:59 pm
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
I spent a long time building a full 360 degree rig where my camera rotated around an object. I had a lot of help from Chris Field of ProjectChronos to make it more accurate based on my needs for the project. I tried everything from circular model train tracks to eventually getting a steel pipe bent and welded with 4 sets wheels going around the top of the pipe attached by wood 1x2. I have it so I can plug 4 C-stands in the bottom of the pipe and put it pretty much anywhere now as long as it can go around or over an object.

Here was one of the first tests I had made with it:


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Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:48 am
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Post Re: Macro semi-circular rail
Gregman wrote:
I spent a long time building a full 360 degree rig where my camera rotated around an object. I had a lot of help from Chris Field of ProjectChronos to make it more accurate based on my needs for the project. I tried everything from circular model train tracks to eventually getting a steel pipe bent and welded with 4 sets wheels going around the top of the pipe attached by wood 1x2. I have it so I can plug 4 C-stands in the bottom of the pipe and put it pretty much anywhere now as long as it can go around or over an object.

Here was one of the first tests I had made with it:

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/79317227[/vimeo]

Hi, Greg,
To run Vimeo embedded modify the address by manually editing to http://www.vimeo.........


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Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:54 am
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