Tuesday, August 16, 2011

time lapse: accelearated learning

I've always been a believer in using photos to track change - in 2004, newly with the Surfrider Foundation, I kicked off a photo monitoring project focusing on the Elwha shoreline. I am also a natural cheap-skate and find that while I do love to play with expensive scientific equipment, I almost love it more when there are novel ways to measure natural systems with cheap, off-the-shelf kind of stuff. Time-lapse photography can be particularly valuable. Even if it doesn't yield quantitative data, it can help us to generate hypotheses or identify processes that are important over timescales that can be hard to observe directly. I experimented a bit with time lapse using CHDK on my Canon point and shoot, but realized that shooting long time-series would be problematic. Recently I was sent a few PlantCams to use to start collecting time-lapse at various points around the Elwha delta. At $80 each, these cameras are CHEAP and, because they are supposedly waterproof and built specifically for time-lapse outdoors, may be perfect for the sort of quick and dirty timelapse photography we have in mind to try to understand how the coast and delta changes over timescales of weeks to months to years. So just tonight I had the chance to pull the stored photos from the test camera that I put on our roof overlooking P.A. harbor:

video

Now I know what you may be thinking..."Nice timelapse of a tree". I will get better at aiming, I promise.