My First Attempt at Time Lapse Photography

Hey everyone,

I discovered that I can do time lapse photography, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It was actually very easy (See below the video for a description of what I used).

Now, doing it well and just doing it are pretty far apart, and I know I’ve got a long way to go, but for all being done within the first 24 hours of realizing that I had the capability, I’m pretty proud of what I came up with and I thought sharing how easy it is to get started might be beneficial.

The music is something that I composed and played in MuseScore a while back (it was sitting around, so I thought I’d use it). I’m not a musician, so forgive its simplicity and the fact that the instruments are all midi simulations rather than… something that sounds good.

For those that are interested, the shot locations are as follows:
-First two clips with the water – Calavara Lake in Carlsbad, Ca
-The ants and two oak tree clips – Buena Vista Park in Vista, Ca
-Last shot with the grass – out my window in Vista, Ca


The camera I used is a Cannon PowersShot SX160 IS with CHDK installed on it. I’ve had the camera for a few years now and I like it, but if I were shopping for it all over again, I would choose something else for one simple reason: this specific PowerShot eats through batteries like a puppy through pizza (maybe a little less messy). The other models of PowerShot I had in the past were not this way. It’s powered by 2 AA batteries and can’t (as far as I’ve figured out) be powered externally (if anyone has any suggestions other than the toothpick trick, please share). Just in the shots used in this video I went through 12 AA battieries; I’m a MONSTER! They are still half full for many other devices, but the camera says they’re dead and turns off. They worked long enough to get these shots, but if I wanted to shoot over a time longer than about 45 minutes (and I do), this just isn’t going to cut it.

CHDK is a set of firmware updates that you can use to increase the functionality of Cannon PowerShots. Model specific downloads and directions can be found here:
CHDK is temporary. You just run it off of the memory card and it allows you to run scripts on your camera. The CHDK download for most PowerShots, I believe, come with an intervalometer script. That’s the one I use. It is very simple once you figure out the menus. You set up your camera ready to go with whatever settings you want, then you tell the intervalometer script a time interval, and launch it. It then takes an image every time that interval is up. For example, if I set it to 10 seconds, it will take an image every 10 seconds until I tell it to stop or it runs out of batteries and turns itself off (the latter usually being the case for me). I did find that, because the camera takes a moment to take and save the images, if you set it too short, it will just take an image whenever it is ready. The clip with the ants, for example, was supposed to be a 1 second interval, but it took one image every time it was ready, which was somewhere between 6 and 7 seconds. The rest of my clips were set to 10 seconds or longer and worked like a charm.

A tripod is a good idea. None of these were taken using a tripod, and I think it shows. My tripod was broken, and the one I ordered was sitting on my doorstep when I got back from the last shot for this. One thing that was kind of cool, but 100% unplanned was the sort of droopy panning effect in a couple of shots. Those happened because I set the camera on its empty case and over the course of 45 minutes or so, the whole thing settled. While it worked out this time, I can see how it could completely ruin a set and is probably impossible to plan exactly where the camera ends up pointing. I don’t know how professionals do the fancy pan shots (hey, I’ve only been at this for a day) but I’m 97.46% sure it has nothing to do with setting the camera on a cloth sack propped against a rock and hoping for the best.

Once I got the shots and made it home, I used the OpenShot Video Editor in Linux. OpenShot allows you to import sequences of pictures. It uploads them like a video clip, with some set number of frames per second and you can manipulate it just like any other video clip. OpenShot is free and very intuitive.
I had a few issues, however. OpenShot uses sequential numbering on the file names to determine which files to include and their order. My camera uses a 4 digit number in the file names. There’s some sort of bug (that took me a while to find talk of on the internet) where if the first image in the sequence has more than a 3 digit number, it tries to upload, then the clip just says “INVALID.” So, I rename all the files to have 3 digit numbers. No, I don’t do it by hand. There are many ways to do this. I had a python script already set up to do something like this, so I just re-purposed it and it works. I have a suspicion that I’m going to get told that the easiest way is to use a BASH script. Feel free to tell me, but I already made my Python tool… so… there.
OpenShot is a little lacking in control of the rate that it plays the images. You can not adjust how many frames per second it shows (I don’t know what the standard is, something near 30?). You can have it double of triple each image while importing if you want it to play 2 or 3 times more slowly. I doubled the images on 3 of the clips because I thought they were too fast, but, for the most part, I feel like being able to speed up or slow down these clips would be handy.Another issue I had with OpenShot is that it is, at least on my computer, very slow with videos of this resolution. You may notice that in the above video the syncing of dramatic moments in the music with clip changes is a bit off. This is because I had to export the video each time just to see if it worked, because the playback option in OpenShot was sketchy and would get stuck. When I reduced the resolution, it worked just fine, so that’s a potential solution as well, but I think I might try experimenting with some other software (any suggestions?).
I feel the need to repeat myself here, though… OpenShot is free… So, that’s really nice.

The music was composed in MuseScore in Linux. It is also free and pretty neat. MuseScore is composition software with a midi simulation playback option which is fantastic for someone like me with no idea what they are doing. It has it’s limits, though. The midi playback IS still midi, and it sounds like it… but it was sort of fun getting to output my song as an mp3 and use it in the video. Maybe someday I’ll use music from real instruments, but for goofing around and learning, I think it works just fine.

I hope you found this enlightening or helpful. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions… though… remember, I’m figuring it out as I go along. In all liklyhood, questions will result in us trying to figure it out together rather than me already knowing the answer. That’s the fun part anyway, though, right?



Hi all!

The results of last week’s vote to determine when my new weekly posting time determined that… well… nobody cares when I post, so long as I do (I chose to add that last part because it makes me feel good).

Having a schedule, though, helps me. So, after today, I’ll be trying out Mondays at 11am.

Now, enjoy this week’s story. Sorry, no art or audio today.


His blue eyes gleamed hard and tough. Set among thin folds in the sun-beaten skin, they were the only hint that the man was thinking, but they were enough. Marvin waited silently, listening to the wind push a few dry foxtails against the rough siding of the barn. He watched uncle Barrett survey his surroundings and contemplate the question. Uncle Barrett always took a few moments to think before he responded, but when he finally did, Marvin had learned, it was best to listen.

When grandfather had passed away, he left the ranch to his two sons: Uncle Barrett and Marvin’s father Norman. The falling out between the two brothers over the direction the ranch should take had been bad once upon a time, Marvin had heard, but he had only ever seen it as a general disdain and occasional acts of passive aggression – until this week, that is.

Uncle Barrett still ran a herd of cattle, and had recently discovered the small mine that Grandfather had used as a pet project before the two boys were born. Marvin’s father wanted to extend a few of the rows of grapevines – the grapevines taking up a sizable portion of what used to be grazing land, and had been the main point of contention between the two brothers. The problem was that the new section of vines would need to be extended right over the mine entrance, as well as block off one of the routes that Barrett liked to direct his cattle through when moving them between pastures.

Things had gotten heated until Gladys, Marvin’s mother (and the only person on Earth that both men would listen to) had intervened. She was the reason they were all there today. Both men were to sit at the table with her and talk it out while drinking tea.

When Marvin had asked about the tea, she had given him a smile and said “Just like my mamma used to say, make them drink tea instead of beer; tea will keep them civilized.”

Now he stood outside with Uncle Barrett. He had seen him standing out by the barn, staring off toward the grapevines, while his mother and father were in the kitchen waiting.

“Yeah. I’ll be right along, Pip,” he said, finally.

Marvin ran back to the house, only looking behind him when he reached the stoop, to see Uncle Barrett making his slow way after him.

When Uncle Barrett finally made it to the door, his huge frame becoming a dark silhouette in the rectangle of bright sunlight, Marvin and his father were sitting and Marvin’s mother had just set the tea kettle on the table and went back for the cups.

“Have a seat, Barrett,” she said.

Uncle Barrett walked slowly into the room, hung his hat on a hook by the door, and pulled out the closest chair at the table, not looking up to meet his brother’s gaze.

“Thanks for having me to tea, Gladys,” he said, settling down into the chair.

“So,” Marvin’s father started, “you’ve decided you’re too busy playing with that damned, dangerous mine to run the cattle the long way around-”

“Tea?” Gladys interjected, cutting him off, then turning to Uncle Barrett, “Tea?”

Uncle Barrett was sure making eye contact with Marvin’s father now, and it was a look that Marvin had never seen on his uncle’s face, which was always guarded to show no emotion. There was emotion there now, though, and it was something like anger.

Neither man said anything as she slowly placed a cup in front of each of them and filled it with tea.

When she turned to Marvin and started to fill his cup, Uncle Barrett sighed, then said, “Papa wanted us to raise cattle, not those god-damned California Raisins.” He pointed out the door to punctuate his point, to where they all knew the first row had been planted years ago.

Marvin saw his mother cut short the pouring of his tea and bound the two steps back to the counter, where she snatched up a plate of cookies.

“You know as well as anyone,” Marvin’s father said, starting to raise his voice, “they are wine grapes, and they are the only thing keeping this ranch afloat!”

“Cookie? Cookie?” Marvin’s mother interjected again, offering each man the plate. They both stopped and looked at her, but neither moved to take a cookie, so she set it down on the table. Marvin reached out and grabbed one.

“I have half a mind to just plant them anyway, what would you do with your precious cattle then?” Marvin had heard his father do many voices, but he had never heard a sneer before and it scared him.

His mother went back to the counter and grabbed the bottle of honey.

Uncle Barrett shot to his feet, staring down his brother, “Well, I’d herd it THROUGH that grape vine! I’m not about to lose my mine.”

“Honey? Honey?” Marvin’s mother asked.

Listen to me read it here:

New Headphones

NewHeadphonesWhen they tapped, the keys of Ein’s keyboard clacked away, approximately in time with the driving guitar riffs chugging through his new noise canceling headphones. He didn’t hear the rat-tat-tat of the keys as his fingers danced through the story, laying down words in their wake; just the music. The music was so crisp and clean it felt like if he were to turn around, he’d find Phil Lynott standing behind him. It really felt like someone was there, but of course, it was just a trick of the beautiful sound pouring out of the amazing, next-generation headphones that allowed nothing but the tunes down through his ear holes into his brain. He lived alone in his ground level, 1 bedroom apartment; nobody would be there.

He was finally hitting his stride. The first draft of this manuscript danced forward, pausing periodically for Ein to contemplate wording and wail on his air guitar before jumping back into the story with feverish abandon.

All of a sudden, Ein crashed into the end of the chapter and looked at the clock in the lower right of the screen with surprise. It had been hours. When he sat down to write, the room had been bathed by daylight trickling in through the windows, and he had been sweating in the hot, summer air. Now, though, a cool breeze wafted through the room which was only lighted by the harsh, white glow of the monitor painting Ein’s face and arms, stretching long, white smudges of light on the carpet on either side of him.

He looked around with a sigh, the screen still a glowing rectangle floating in the center of his vision. He couldn’t quite see what yet, but could tell that something was wrong with the room. His brows furrowed. He waited for his eyes to adjust, and slipped the headphones out of his ears. The music fell away, replaced by the gentle sound of the vertical blinds over the open window knocking together in the breeze. He stood in shock as he started to see that most of his stuff was gone. While he had been sitting there at work, the TV, stereo, game console, couch, and table had all disappeared. Turning on his heel, he stared at the front door, hanging open.

“How the fuck?” he asked aloud.

“Oh my god, I’ve been robbed,” he murmured as it hit him, his hand lifting to run through his hair. His cheeks started to burn with embarrassment as he realized that – worse than losing his crap – whoever it was had seen him playing the air guitar.

Listen to me red it here:

Prayers to Therese


I’ve decided to share another poem and folk song that I wrote to exist in the world of the science fiction novel I’ve been working on entitled Lyssa Jordan Robot Hunter (the other poem/ song combo can be found here). These aren’t about the story or characters for the novel, but exist in the background because even when we’ve push into the solar system and many of our daily lives are spent confined to tiny cans hurtling through space, hoping that the ship doesn’t break down, humans will still be writing music and poetry.

I’m not a musician and lack the musical ability to write down or recreate the melody in my head that goes with the following song. It’s folksy guitar. Feel free to just pretend it’s a poem, as I did in the attached audio file.

Prayers to Therese (the song):

Well she’s not very fast
and she doesn’t look nice
but she’s plenty reliable
you know, for the price
She doesn’t break down
and get’s me where I’m going
except for that once,
but I shouldn’t ‘ve been towing

So I thank my ship Therese for taking care of me
She’s a bucket of bolts, but allows me to be free
Just a few million more miles back to the earth
please hold on, baby, give it all that you’re worth
I’ll sweet-talk you, honey, all while you fly
’cause if you break down, I’ll probably die.

Life support’s decent
great for the money
as long as you don’t mind
that the air smells funny
From the time I docked drunk
The hull’s got a big dent
but it still blocks radiation
and the atmosphere doesn’t vent

So I thank my ship Therese for taking care of me
She’s a bucket of bolts, but allows me to be free
Just over a million more miles back to the earth
please hold on, baby, give it all that you’re worth
I’ll sweet-talk you, honey, all while you fly
’cause if you break down, I’ll probably die.

I lost a heat shield back there
The thing just fell off
and the engine started sounding
like a cougar with a cough
I’m starting to get worried
but I’m not dead yet
When I fly it’s a gamble
and it’s one hell of a bet

So I thank my ship Therese for taking care of me
She’s a bucket of bolts, but allows me to be free
Just a thousand more miles back to the earth
please hold on, baby, give it all that you’re worth
I swear I’ll fix you, honey, if we make it there alive
just, please hold together until after we arrive

The ship’s getting hot now
the coolant line’s got a block
The whole ship almost blew
but I fixed it with a knock
On our final approached
the drive coil starts to shake
Fixed it too, but I’m not sure
how much more the ship can take

So I thank my ship Therese for getting me home
She’s a bucket of bolts, but allows me to roam
It was a close call, Therese, but we made it back to earth
Thanks for holding on, baby, and giving it all that you’re worth
I sweet-talked you, honey, all while you flew
’cause if you broke down, I would have been through

Now with my ship Therese
all safe on the ground
The engine cools off
and she stops making that sound
she coughed and she wheezed
on the previous trip as well
but I think it’s gotten worse
I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to tell

So I thank my ship Therese for being ready to go
She’s a bucket of bolts, but she’s all that I know
It was close last time but we made it back fine
Because of you, baby, even if you did whine
I know I should be smart and these repairs I should do
but they can probably wait until this next trip is through

So I thank my ship Therese for being ready to go
She’s a bucket of bolts, but she’s all that I know
It was close last time but we made it back fine
Because of you, baby, even if you did whine
I know I should be smart and these repairs I should do
but they can probably wait until this next trip is through

Listen to me read Prayers to Therese here:

Flowers (the poem):

When I’m away from earth
I dream that I’m in flowers
Onto my back I’ve fallen
And I stare into the sky

But when I am back home
After only a few hours
I’m attacked by pollen
And I feel like I might die

I go quickly to my ship
My view of home now sour
Into that can I’m crawling
And away from there I fly

But once away I forget
I swear the earth has powers
cuz I hear the flowers calling
And I let out a sigh

Listen to me read Flowers here:

You can buy crap decorated with the ship Therese as seen in the GIF at the top of this post. As usual, it can be found on RedBubble: