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 Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers? 
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Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:25 am
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Post Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Hey everyone,
I believe this is my first post but I've been reading here for awhile. Anyways I do a lot of video work, and some time-lapsing as well. I'm going into a project for a client to document the growth of a crop, from seed to harvest. Anyone here ever done this?

I'm going to be using the Harbortronics kit https://www.harbortronics.com/Products/TimeLapsePackage/ with the T3i as it is outdoors in the middle of a field remote from anything. I will be checking the unit hopefully on a weekly basis.

The focus of the timelapse is to show the placement of the crop and how well it emerges from the soil so the T3i will be quite low to the ground and a secondary camera will be a bit higher/wider.

Anyone have any pointers going into this project? They're more than appreciated.

-Dustin

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Thu May 26, 2011 10:41 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Here is a similar post. Happy First post day to you!

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=4053&p=25706&hilit=farm#p25706


Thu May 26, 2011 11:07 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Thanks Zigmo!

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Thu May 26, 2011 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
The Harbortronics package is pretty sweet. Its hard to go wrong there. Make sure the solar panel for the low to the ground camera is mounted high enough to get sunlight even when the plants grow to their maximum height. This might mean mounting the panel higher up on the pole instead of having it right on the housing. Solar panels always face south.

Dayglow orange paint at the top of the pole to minimize the chances of it being hit by a tractor.

Try using another DSLR running a high framerate to record the rototilling, spraying and planting. Even a camcorder sitting stationary on its tripod would give you something that could be sped up in post. These clips will add interest by showing more of the story. Your film will be more than just the growing plants.

If you can afford it, you can't go wrong with having more timelapse cameras out there. It gives you insurance against one of them not working out. At least you'd have some backup footage. I'd hate to be the one to tell your customer he has to wait until next growing season because something broke, or mud splashed on the window, gophers dug under it...... Ya never know.


Fri May 27, 2011 4:16 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
sciencelookers wrote:
The Harbortronics package is pretty sweet. Its hard to go wrong there. Make sure the solar panel for the low to the ground camera is mounted high enough to get sunlight even when the plants grow to their maximum height. This might mean mounting the panel higher up on the pole instead of having it right on the housing. Solar panels always face south.

Dayglow orange paint at the top of the pole to minimize the chances of it being hit by a tractor.

Try using another DSLR running a high framerate to record the rototilling, spraying and planting. Even a camcorder sitting stationary on its tripod would give you something that could be sped up in post. These clips will add interest by showing more of the story. Your film will be more than just the growing plants.

If you can afford it, you can't go wrong with having more timelapse cameras out there. It gives you insurance against one of them not working out. At least you'd have some backup footage. I'd hate to be the one to tell your customer he has to wait until next growing season because something broke, or mud splashed on the window, gophers dug under it...... Ya never know.


Great tips science! Really appreciate it, may have overlooked a couple things you pointed out there. Unfortunately the budget will only cover one Harbortronics unit but I'm going to be using a Wingscapes Birdcam 2.0 for a second angle. I've already done some tests with it and the results are useable. I'm excited/nervous for this project!

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Fri May 27, 2011 7:44 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Sounds like a fun project. Shooting plant development can be very rewarding but has two main pitfalls obligates equipment for long periods of time for a single project and not very easy to repeat.

The unit you're purchasing is one of the more bullet proof units out there. I'm not sure about the wingscapes units (though plenty affordable). I haven't been overly impressed with mine.

My main concern is putting all your eggs in 1.2 baskets. Even if all works well, the footage is likely to be a bit bland (depending on planned end use) & heavy with flicker. I too would highly recommend sciencelookers's approach. You can really make the final product more dynamic by including another camera with content with action occurring over e.g. 10min vs. 10 days.

Though plant development is not easy to capture, you do have options like shooting multiple short duration sequences (2.g. 3 times during development shoot for 30 minutes) from a fixed point. Ideally, you need some reference points to help the viewer's brain realize they are seeing the same place over time. I've done it both ways and they each have there challenges. This approach would free up the camera equipment to shoot other short duration activities.

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Fri May 27, 2011 2:24 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Kurt wrote:
Sounds like a fun project. Shooting plant development can be very rewarding but has two main pitfalls obligates equipment for long periods of time for a single project and not very easy to repeat.

The unit you're purchasing is one of the more bullet proof units out there. I'm not sure about the wingscapes units (though plenty affordable). I haven't been overly impressed with mine.

My main concern is putting all your eggs in 1.2 baskets. Even if all works well, the footage is likely to be a bit bland (depending on planned end use) & heavy with flicker. I too would highly recommend sciencelookers's approach. You can really make the final product more dynamic by including another camera with content with action occurring over e.g. 10min vs. 10 days.

Though plant development is not easy to capture, you do have options like shooting multiple short duration sequences (2.g. 3 times during development shoot for 30 minutes) from a fixed point. Ideally, you need some reference points to help the viewer's brain realize they are seeing the same place over time. I've done it both ways and they each have there challenges. This approach would free up the camera equipment to shoot other short duration activities.


Really appreciate the input Kurt. This Time-lapse will be mixed into a small promo video for seeding equipment, so there will be video mixed in with it as well. Using the T3i, the photos will be large enough that I can use a wide and a tight cut of the timelapse from one angle as it will only be 1080p or lower resolution. I will have the Wingscapes unit up higher getting a wider shot of the crop growing. How reliable it will be I am unsure. I did a 2 week test with it shooting at 20 min intervals and it turned out quite well, so I'm willing to give it a shot.

Do you have the 8 MP Birdcam 2.0? I tested with the 8MP Birdcam 2.0 and the 4MP Project Cam. The 4MP Project Cam and 4MP Plant Cam (same unit), are not really useable, they are very low quality images. I was fairly impressed with the Birdcam 2.0's results though, even has a little DOF.

But you have put ideas in my head now. When I go to check the cameras on a weekly basis hopefully, I will probably get a wider video shot or timelapse of the crop and set up every week in as close to the same spot to roll a little video/short timelapse. I could stitch them together in post, or almost animate them together. This would add some dynamic to the end product. I have to stay within budget limits of course.

On a Settings note. What would be the suggested camera settings? All manual as usual? Or because it's day to day should I leave something like the ISO or WB on auto? Because on a really bright day it could be blown right out, or if it was a cloudy darker day, it might be a bit too dark. Suggestions? I'm thinking of running it on Aperture Priority so the shutter can adjust accordingly.

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Fri May 27, 2011 3:18 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
First, I would say test as much as possible in your backyard to work the bugs out.

If it were me then I would use aperture priority with the long term project & M with the short term stuff. I have the garden cam which is probably part of the problem on my end. The FOV is also very small for Montana style landscapes with the unit.

Thanks for providing more details on the project. I think you're headed in the right direction. Having as many options as possible is always good to help hedge your bets. One main issue that I've found when doing the 3 shots from same location approach is getting the same shot each time. Shooting with dSLRs provides a lot of options for cropping, etc. when down resing to 1080p. I was using a laptop to control the camera so could compare new photos with those taken previously. So the more you can do to add technical detail at this stage (put in stake, etc.), the less you'll pull your hair out later. Getting it exactly lined up is tricky but you have a lot of leeway in post with dSLR footage--less with video.

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Fri May 27, 2011 4:27 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Alright well I had a whole 2 days to test in my backyard before I had to put it out in the field :( ... I decided AV mode is going to work the best as the light changed are going to be quite dramatic over a few weeks time. I got it put in the field on June 1st. Since then we've had heavy, heavy rains. I haven't been able to check on it yet but I will sometime this week to make sure the window is clean.

The camera box is about 4-5 inches off the ground shooting directly down the seeded rows. Because it's so close to the ground there is quite a bit of DOF. The lens is set at 28mm. I set the aperture at F/14 to minimize the DOF because I need to have as much as I can in focus to ensure I will be on a plant coming up, it's tough focusing on something that doesn't exist yet...

The ISO I set at 200 because the aperture is so closed. So at 28mm F/14 ISO200 what do you guys think? On a darker day will F/14 cause the shutter to be too long and have motion blur if there is wind on the plants at all? I'm worried about that..

It's overcast right now and I just did a couple test shots with my 7D at those same settings and I'm getting an average shutter speed of about 10.

Here is what the camera is seeing (rock is just for focus point):
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Set up shots:
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:13 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Maybe I missed it in the above posts, but what kind of crop is growing for the rig to be so low?


Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:17 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
RamRod wrote:
Maybe I missed it in the above posts, but what kind of crop is growing for the rig to be so low?


Sorry I never covered that. It's going to be spring wheat. You are right the camera is pretty low, but it's like that for a reason. What is most important to capture in this time-lapse is the seedlings emerging from the ground. What the client wants to see is good seed placement and fast emergence. So I made the framing tight enough to get that but wide enough to get the growth to 10 inches or so. Once the wheat grows out of frame, the rig may be moved to a higher vantage point from there if needed.

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:36 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
that shot looks so cool (the focusing rock) I'd be tempted to rebuild it as a set in a studio (albeit a rather large studio) and have more control of lighting and the like, but that is just me. Hope it turns out well

timt

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:16 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
pixelbot wrote:
that shot looks so cool (the focusing rock) I'd be tempted to rebuild it as a set in a studio (albeit a rather large studio) and have more control of lighting and the like, but that is just me. Hope it turns out well

timt



That would be the perfect way to do it like they did for Discoveries Planet Earth. Unfortunately that's not what the client would want to show. They need to show real world scenarios for customers to see real world results. If it was created inside of course it would turn out great, but it's not proving anything.

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:11 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Shooting so low to the ground is it possible that a heavy rain might cause soil to splash onto the front of your housing? Otherwise, like the angle.

Looks like you're ready to launch. I like having something in the background to add some continuity. [a rusty tractor might really impress the growers--I'm not kidding]. The low shot will help show the seedlings emerge. I'm not sure about shutter speeds. We have so much wind out here in eastern Montana that it wouldn't matter--you'ld either have motion blur or subject jitter during playback. Pick your distraction. To me, jitter is a bit more annoying than motion blur. A triple benefit to shooting on a set is that you avoid these two problems and the other biggy--changing light conditions. This would be one benefit of shooting on a set possibly with some chroma keying so that the lighting is constant (no flicker) and movement is actual plant development as opposed to jittery movement caused by wind...

I find the producers that have survived the ups and downs are pretty skeptical people and might be turned off by something that appears too staged even though the set work would be more aesthetically pleasing. But I really am just learning about the psychology of your average farmer. So is half the field of view going to have one type of wheat and the other half something else to hopefully show some difference in growth? If it is all the same then I'm sure growers will be impressed--its time-lapse! They'll literally be able to watch the plants grow before their eyes. It will probably make their mouths' water. ;)

Keep us posted.

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:21 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Kurt wrote:
Shooting so low to the ground is it possible that a heavy rain might cause soil to splash onto the front of your housing? Otherwise, like the angle.

Looks like you're ready to launch. I like having something in the background to add some continuity. [a rusty tractor might really impress the growers--I'm not kidding]. The low shot will help show the seedlings emerge. I'm not sure about shutter speeds. We have so much wind out here in eastern Montana that it wouldn't matter--you'ld either have motion blur or subject jitter during playback. Pick your distraction. To me, jitter is a bit more annoying than motion blur. A triple benefit to shooting on a set is that you avoid these two problems and the other biggy--changing light conditions. This would be one benefit of shooting on a set possibly with some chroma keying so that the lighting is constant (no flicker) and movement is actual plant development as opposed to jittery movement caused by wind...

I find the producers that have survived the ups and downs are pretty skeptical people and might be turned off by something that appears too staged even though the set work would be more aesthetically pleasing. But I really am just learning about the psychology of your average farmer. So is half the field of view going to have one type of wheat and the other half something else to hopefully show some difference in growth? If it is all the same then I'm sure growers will be impressed--its time-lapse! They'll literally be able to watch the plants grow before their eyes. It will probably make their mouths' water. ;)

Keep us posted.


You are right. Dirt and what not are probably going to get the window a little dirty. I just have to make sure to make sure it's clean after rainstorms. The camera is in a field that isn't too far away from where I live which gives me a lot more peace of mind as I can check on it often. I am worried about the shutter speed rightnow though. I may turn the ISO up a little when I check on it next to keep the shutter speed up. I do agree a bit of motion blurr is almost better than a jerking plant but too much blurr would make it look bad. You're not too far from me and up here in Sask we get some crazy winds as well.

Yeah recreating inside isn't even an option, just because people want to see real results. This specific crop is going to be growing "dual rows". The seeder tip (which the video is about) is called a paired row tip. So not just one row of plants will be growing in each furrow, but two side by side. It should look pretty neat!

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:10 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
To avoid the dirt/rain splash you might try putting something under the camera, of course rain could still splash up it may not be as dirty

Timt

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Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:40 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
pixelbot wrote:
To avoid the dirt/rain splash you might try putting something under the camera, of course rain could still splash up it may not be as dirty

Timt


Yeah I thought about laying a piece of plywood under the window. It would reduce dirt splash but might cause the rain to splash more on it because of the hard surface.

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Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:50 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
TwoBrothersFilms wrote:
pixelbot wrote:
To avoid the dirt/rain splash you might try putting something under the camera, of course rain could still splash up it may not be as dirty

Timt


Yeah I thought about laying a piece of plywood under the window. It would reduce dirt splash but might cause the rain to splash more on it because of the hard surface.


Yeah, maybe something like AstroTurf or carpeting which would absorb the rain and minimize the splash. Just a though

TT

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Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:04 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
The solar panel looks like it will block most of the rain. Assuming it is coming straight down.


Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:57 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
pixelbot wrote:
Yeah, maybe something like AstroTurf or carpeting which would absorb the rain and minimize the splash. Just a though

TT


Great idea! Yeah that would be the perfect kind of surface to use. I just got back from checking the camera after about a week in the field and two heavy rainstorms. The window was surprisingly clean. I wiped it off anyways but it wasn't dirty enough to compromise the photos.

Image

Zigmo wrote:
The solar panel looks like it will block most of the rain. Assuming it is coming straight down.


The solar panel does provide some shelter for the window. However I did tilt and slide the panel towards to South for better sun and to have less shadow infront of the camera when the sun it behind it. So it's not as sheltered as it is straight from Harbortronics. You can see the difference in the set up shots.

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Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:47 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
I figured I should probably give some updates on here as it has been over 2 months! And yes the camera is still out there! The timelapse is coming to an end shortly as the crop will be ready for harvest in a week or so. So here's a summary on whats been happened the past couple months.

June 14th check (2 weeks into timelapse). As you can see the crop has sprouted up nicely. All is going well!
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June 22nd Check. (About 3 weeks into timelapse)
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July 4th Check (Over 4 weeks into timelapse) Things are a little bushy now..
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More to come! Unfortunately July was a very busy month so I never had a chance to really gather any more progression shots.

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Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:53 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Alright so this is how the camera had to be repositioned about a month and a half into the time lapse. We had the camera low to the ground at the beginning to show the plants emerging because thats what the client was interested in. Once the plants had grown above the frame we had to reposition the camera quite high above the crop to get the plants fully matured. Like I said I never had a chance to get many photos in july so this is how it was repositioned:
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Yesterday marked 78 days into the timelapse. Here's some shots of what things are looking like:

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Things are about the wrap up!
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Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:17 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
sweet cant wait to see your finished product. Should lokk very cool :)


Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:29 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Some very nice stills. I also can't wait to see the final product! Thanks for the updates.

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:00 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Thanks Kurt!

Pulled the camera out of the field today.
I'm actually in the process of rendering right now. Have close to 4000 Raw Images to get through. It's going to be a long haul!

-D

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:16 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Looks like fun, and I have a few tech Q's:

It looks like the camera position has changed since you began. How are you going to deal with the camera shift?

How many shots a day do you shoot?

How are you executing the firing time?

How are you controlling for the shifting sunlight/position of the sun (seasonal elevation change of the sun)?

Are you using a static exposure or are you using some auto setting?

TIA.
BDU

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:15 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
can't wait to see it. Hopefully you've been looking at the shots while shooting so there aren't any surprises, unless of course they are happy surprises.

tt

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Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:52 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
BerthaDUniverse wrote:
Looks like fun, and I have a few tech Q's:

It looks like the camera position has changed since you began. How are you going to deal with the camera shift?

Correct the camera position has changed since the beginning of the time lapse. I had to have the camera down low to the ground to get the plants first emerging, this is what the client wants to see. It was at 28mm when it was low to the ground as well as when it was repositioned up higher. The end time lapse is going to be spliced into a little video showing the features of the seeding tip that put these plants in the ground. So the transition between the two positions most likely won't be side by side, it will be cut together with other shots.

How many shots a day do you shoot?

We shot 45 photos a day exactly. 5:30am - 8:30pm every 20 minutes from June 2nd - Aug 27th.

How are you executing the firing time?

It is controlled by the Digisnap 2100 from Harbortronics. It can be programmed to run multiple interval sequences throughout a 24 hr period. We just had it running one sequence of a photo every 20 mins from 5:30am - 8:30pm. Worked extremely well.

How are you controlling for the shifting sunlight/position of the sun (seasonal elevation change of the sun)?

This was taken into consideration when setting the camera up. We had to make sure that we weren't going to be getting lens flair in the mornings or evenings. Based on where we are located, the camera had to be facing north to avoid any sun in the shots. Luckily the field we got to put it in was planted running north and south. The sun gets lower in the southern sky as the summer progresses so having the camera facing north eliminated any possibility of the sun being in the shot. BUT having the sun behind the unit posed a risk of it's own shadow showing up in the photos. The unit was close enough to the ground to not cause any shadows in its view thankfully. There may be a few photos in the evenings with a little bit of lens flair but those frames can be easily removed.

Are you using a static exposure or are you using some auto setting?

We ran the camera in Av mode. To be exact our settings were: AV Mode, F14, ISO 400, @ 28mm.
Figured AV mode would be the best bet as the light changing everyday would be so drastic, the camera is going to have to compensate for it. Otherwise a sunny day might be exposed right but a cloudy day would be way too dark, or vise versa.




TIA.
BDU



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Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:00 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
pixelbot wrote:
can't wait to see it. Hopefully you've been looking at the shots while shooting so there aren't any surprises, unless of course they are happy surprises.

tt


Yeah the photos were dumped off about every two weeks so we monitored what was going on, didn't want to run the card too full. It was usually about 20-25gb's worth each off load

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Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:03 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
The stills of your setup are beautiful. Thats such a great place for a timelapse. Recording the entire growth of that crop is so cool. I will be very interested in seeing the results when you are done rendering. I really love growing plants in timelapse. It would also be great if you can give some sort of critique of the equipment. How easy or difficult was the setup of the Harbortronics system? any unanticipated problems? How does image quality of the wingscapes camera compare to the Harbortronics? Any advice you may have for other prople who may be attempting their first long duration outdoor timelapse? Now that you've done this, you are the experienced one. Let us know what works well, what doesn't and what to look out for if we try something like this at home.


Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:37 am
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Well...How did it turn out? I think we would all like to see the final product.


Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
I would like to see the finished product as well!

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Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:30 pm
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Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Really apologize for the lack of update here guys! Was a crazy end of the year. Will get something up for you guys as soon as possible.

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:43 pm
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:44 pm
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
so how is the project turning out?, looking forward to seeing the final product.


Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:35 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:48 pm
Posts: 1144
Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
the life of a wheat field

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Tim T


Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:46 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
Posts: 121
Post Re: Going into 2 month(ish) growth timelapse. Any pointers?
Thanks for the link!


Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:01 am
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